Dapo Sotuminu, Lagos
The Kwara Falcons Basketball Club of Ilorin and Gombe Bulls Basketball Club, top the table in the Atlantic and Savannah Conferences of the Kwese Premier Basketball League respectively, as the first round of the Nigeria’s national senior basketball premier league go on break.
The Kwara Falcons tutored by former national team captain, Lati Erinfolami, top the Atlantic Conference with 14 points from seven games, winning all games played and lost none. They scored a total of 539 points and conceded 429. They have a goal difference of +110.
In second place in the Atlantic Conference whose games’ venues are the Digital Bridge Institute, Cappa, Oshodi, Lagos, the Indoor Sports Hall of the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Delta State and Indoor Sports Hall of the Kwara State Sports Complex, Ilorin, we have Hoops and Read Basketball Club, owned by former national team captain, Olumide Oyedeji, finishing second place at the end of the first round of the 2018 season, with 12 points from seven matches. They won five and lost two games. Scored a total 504 points and conceded 433 points, with a goal difference of +71.
In third place is newly promoted Anambra Flames, owned also by a former national team player, Ejike Medos. The Flames have as one of their assistant coaches, a national women basketball team foreign-based player, Uju Ugoka. They have been the surprise team of the conference, with their consistent play which earned them a third place position with 11 points from seven games. They scored 499 points and conceded 473 points, giving them a goal difference of +26.
Customs (10 points), Delta Force (10 points) and Ayo Bakare-tutored Ebun Comets (9 points) are placed 4th, 5th and 6th respectively as the season go on break.
From the Atlantic Conference, only the top six teams will make the Conference Six competition from where four will make it to the Super 8 where the three clubs that will represent the country at the FIBA African Club Championship, will be picked. The two bottom teams will be relegated from each of the Conferences at the end of the season.
In the Savannah Conference, last year’s league first runner’s-Up, Gombe Bulls, top the table at the end of the first round with 12 points from six games. They scored 465 points and conceded 347 points with a +118 goal difference.
In second place is league defending champions, Kano Pillars, with 11 points from six games, scored 551 points and conceded 450 points, with a goal difference of +101. In third place is Niger Potters of Minna that finished the first round with 10 points from six games, they won four and lost two games. They scored 456 points and conceded 432 points leaving them with a +24 goal difference.
Compared with the Atlantic Conference that has 8 teams, the Savannah Conference has less, just seven clubs. They are also going to present six teams at the Conference Six tournament to pick the final four teams for the Super 8. From the fourth position to the seventh, we have Bauchi Nets (8 points), Defenders of Abuja (8 points), AHIP Giants (7 points) and Plateau Peaks (7 points). The supposedly eighth team, Abuja All Stars, who are newly promoted from the lower league to the premier league, withdrew due to other financial commitments of the proprietor.
The venues of games in the Savannah Conference are the Indoor Sports Hall of the Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna, the Indoor Sports Hall of the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, and the Indoor Sports Hall of the Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi.
According to the Kwese Premier League Management Board headed by Olumide Oyedeji in a mid-season review meeting held in Lagos, which also saw the president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation in attendance alongside clubs’ representatives, the second round of the season will resume in the first week of July, precisely July 5, 2018, at which time all the pending transfer issues of players must have been concluded and players with injuries fully recovered, as they will still play in the third round of the Premier League.
All the teams will play 21 games each before going into the Conference Six and Super 8.
Dapo Sotuminu, Lagos