First Deepwater Basketball Club of Ekiti
By Femi Solaja
First Deepwater Basketball Club of Ekiti at the weekend confirmed its rating as the best female team in the country after retaining the Zenith Bank League for the third consecutive season.
Although the team lost 70-76 on the final day to arch rival First Bank of Lagos, that did not stop them from reaping from the hard work they have established all through the season.
However, credit also goes to the First Bank side for breaking the 44 unbeaten run of First Deepwater who until weekend were yet to concede any defeat in the last two seasons.
The Oil and Gas ladies trailed their arch rival by a point in the first quarter by 22-23 points and further gave up additional one point in the second quarter 09-10 for a two point first half deficit of 31-33 points.
The Coach Lateef Erinfolami-tutored champion rose from the two points down after the break to pick the third quarter by 22-13 points to open up a seven points lead going into the last quarter (53-46).
However, First Bank again rallied back to at least gain some respect for itself as the former champion and would not want to go down woefully to the Deepwater, forcing the champion to turn the ball over at will. First Deepwater final gave up the fourth quarter by 17-30 points for a final score-line of 70-76 points.
Coach Erinfolami praised his players’ fighting spirit against First Bank and says the final day match is a reflection of the increasing interest in Nigeria women league.
The former Nigeria international also applaud First Bank doggedness in the final day match-up describing the Elephant Girls resilient as someone who would not want a complete knockout.
First Deepwater ended the season with a 26-1 record against First Bank 25-2 record just as Sunshine Angels of Akure retained her third spot with a 20-7 records.
The champion (First Deepwater), were rewarded with the sum of N1, 000,000 and a giant trophy for their effort. First Bank got N750, 000 while Sunshine Angels were rewarded with N500, 000.
First Deepwater and Nigeria international Nkechi Akashili led her team with 25 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and one steal while Magdalene Ukato added 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Akashili was again voted the season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) retaining the best player crown for a record third time and also emerged as the league’s top scorer.
First Bank duo of Evelyn Akhator and Oluchi Nzekwe won the season highest rebounder and leading 3-point shooter awards respectively.