LAGOS (Zenith Bank Women League) - Reigning Nigeria Women league champions, First Bank basketball club of Lagos will begin her quest to retain the Nigeria Women league title next Friday against newly promoted FCT Queens basketball club of Abuja.
The match is the opening game of the phase-one of the Zenith Bank Women league with the defending champion favoured to reeact the spark that have seen her dominate the Nigeria local scene.
The match billed for the Sports Hall of the Abuja National Stadium jump-starts the Nigeria season.
First Bank coach and Nigeria senior women national team assistant coach Adewumi Aderemi is optimistic his wards will retain the title again.
Coach Aderemi told www.fiba-afrique.org in an exclusive chat before the team depart Lagsos for Zaria to continue preparations for the task ahead that the Elephant Girls as the team is also known has no equal in the local scene but looking forward to making appreciable impact in the continent once again.
“We want to thank our management for standing by us when the going was tough especially during the 2007 FIBA Africa Champions Club Competition in Maputo, Mozambique where we finished a dismal 7th and we are promising them that we want to return to the continent once but first by winning the Zenith Bank league title.
“I know that other teams in the country have since fortified their team but we are unleashing a more younger team on them, players with hunger for success and ofcourse return to the continent and be counter among the contenders.
“We are not going to underrate any team in our quest to retain the Nigerian league and I want to on behalf of the coaching crew and players thanked the management of First Bank Sports Club and the parent body First Bank Plc for providing us with all the basics we needed to succeed and I stand to say we will not let them down, Aderemi concluded.
First Bank arch rival, Dolphins basketball club was also handed what can be termed an easy opening game pairing as the Wale Aboderin girls will file out against another new comer, Plateau Rocks basketball club of Jos.
The Dolphins like First Bank was also in Mozambique last year where they finished in the 10th position.
And in its bid to do well this year Dolphins is unleashing former Nigeria international guard, Taye Adeniyi as coach/ player on the rest of the teams in the league.
Adeniyi popularly called ‘Do-Something’ due to her terrific shooting ability says she is back to prove a point that female players gets better with age.
“Experience especially when it comes to female basketballer is like an old wine that gets better and better with time.
“I am out to help raise the profile of my team – Dolphins and other teams should better watch out as it is not going to be easy for who ever thought I am finished, the former First Bank basketball club guard said.
This year’s league is sponsored to the tune of N16 million naira almost 20 percent increment from that of 2007.
According to the 2nd Vive-President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Vivianne Eze who stood-in for the federation president Elder Jacob Gyang Buba that each of the ten teams that will campaign in this year’s league will get a sum of two hundred (N200, 000) thousand naira as subsidy for each of the phases amounting to a total of N600, 000 for each club.
She further gave a break-down of the prize money for the 2008 league; first place winner at the end of the third phase in Lagos between June 25 and July 6 will go home with a cash prize of N750, 000 and a giant trophy, second place will get N.5M, third will be rewarded with the sum of N350, 000 while the fourth placed team gets N200, 000 for its efforts.
The Abuja phase-one leg of the league will run from March 26 though April 6 with the first day as arrival while a technical meeting between the teams and the league department of the NBBF will met on March 27 with competition starting on March 28 through April 5.
The second phase with Enugu as venue will dunk-off May 9 through 17 while the ten teams are expected to arrival the Coacl city on May 7, the phase technical meeting is billed for May 8.
Timeyin Ejoor, head of Corporate Communications of Zenith Bank Plc sponsors of the league says its his bank little ways of giving back to the society.
He, however, promised that with full cooperation of the NBBF and participating teams, the bank will continue to sponsor the top women league in Nigeria .
Secretary General of the Nigeria basketball ruling body, Francis Gbiri told www.fiba-afrique.org that the Nigeria federation will continue to do its best to lift the game in the country.
By: Olusegun Ikuesan
photo Getty Images