Senate President, David Mark sponsored the tournament
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Dolphins of Lagos on New Year Eve emerged the female category winners of the 12th edition of the Mark D’ Ball Basketball Tournament in Otukpo after beating defending champions, Pearls in an all Lagos derby by 33- 24 basket.
Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Olatokunbo Olasehinde was the heroine of Dolphins triumph as contributed 12 points from the three point throw in the all action packed final played at the Otukpo Sports Arena.
Though Pearls took two of the four quarters, they were punished by poor defence and doggy shooting inside the paint as Dolphins who also secured two of the four quarters, were the better attacking side.
Evelyn Akator, who emerged as the MVP last year, took it personal as she tried to rally Pears to rise to the occasion, but they failed to get to grip with the pace of the match and in particular could not make up from the free throw line where they could only convert 6- 15 throws.
Dolphins chairman and coach Wale Aboderin, who has been running the team for 14 years, said he was delighted to win the tournament and praised his side for taking the game to Pearls with their offensive approach.
Olasehinde who was the darling of the spectators said she had to work on her agility to make up for small size by giving more than 200 per cent to the team cause.
“I had to carry the burden on my head and make everybody happy by giving the team a New Year gift. It feels great coming here for the first time and beating the defending champions,” the 21- year old said.
The female final was a dress rehearsal to the big one as Blame it on Experience, comprising of a number of current and former Nigerian international players, defeated ASFAC of Benin Republic 84- 73 to retain their title.
The Tigers players Ejike Ugboaja and Stanley Oguma and former international players, Osita Nwachukwu, Tunji Awojobi, Ogoh Odaudu and Igoche Mark, were pushed all the way but relied on their experience against the Benin Port Authority side.
ASFAC coach, Favour Ahmedu, said that he was not disappointed to lose to the star studded Nigerian selection, adding that the match would serve as a learning curve for his side.
“It was a great experience to play against the Nigerian team that has played all over the world. We even surpassed our own expectation by reaching the final. We are trying to improve our team, though we won the Benin league back to back,” said Nigerian-born Ahmedu.