The 2022 edition of Mark D Ball Women’s Basketball Championship got underway on Saturday evening, with Sunshine Angels of Akure out-dunking Hotcoal Slizzers of Abuja 28-20.
Prior to the opener, players of all the 16 participating teams, aptly dressed in fitting branded by ‘Mark D Ball’ tops marched unto the Court of the Multi-Purpose Indoor Sports Hall, Package B of the MKO Abiola National Stadium, with thousands of Basketball faithfuls, as well as a number of Artistes performing, with fans cheering them, from the stands.
The hall was jam-packed despite the fact that Super Eagles of Nigeria were playing against Sudan at the ongoing African Cup of Nations football tournament taking place in Cameroun.
Addressing the teams and spectators, the Initiator of the Championships, Mr. Igoche Mark assured lovers of Basketball in Nigeria that plans are being perfected to have the tournament played constantly across the country, in a format replicating the NBA regular season games.
Mark said that the New Face of Basketball is a project focused on the reviving the domestic component of the slam and dunk game.
He recounted how league and grassroots aspect of Basketball in Nigeria were deflated for a very long time and unable to bounce and asked all stakeholders to rally round him as one United family to sustain the momentum and ensure that the inflated ball will keep on bouncing, uninterruptedly, by ensuring that games are played across the country, regularly.
Recalled at his unveiling, where he declared his intention to run as President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF); Igoche also dwelled extensively on the deflated ball which has not been bouncing for a long time, and replaced it with an inflated ball, branded “Mark D Ball, the New Face of Basketball in Nigeria”.
He said his target is to see the ball bouncing non-stop, and the young ones play as many games as possible just like in the NBA where 82 games are played in a regular season.
His word, “Even if we cannot play 82 games, let’s play something close. This is what the New Face of Basketball is all about” Mark stated.
The young “Sportpreneur” was visibly pleased with the massive turnout for the opening ceremony, and praised Nigerians and corporate bodies who still believe in the game, and demonstrated such by committing resources and co-sponsoring the rejuvenated Championships.
Asked how he was able to put together such a huge event, Mark said effective planning, and mobilizing passionate and committed young men and women to get things done, were key to the success story witnessed at the opening ceremony.
“The turnout has been massive; everybody is happy to play. Effective planning is key, we put a whole lot to planning. We have a lot of sponsors who still believe that Nigeria basketball can still rise again, we approached them and they obliged our request”, Mark added.
Match-day 3 Fixtures
IGP Queens Vs Taraba Hurricane
Novena Queens Vs HotCoal Slizzers
First Bank Versus Kada Angels
Delta Force Vs City Sparks
Plateau Rocks Versus Nasarawa Amazons
Nigeria Customs Vs Osun Pearls
MFM Vs Sunshine Angels
Air Warriors Vs FCT Angels
STANDINGS as at Day 1
1. FCT ANGELS +19
2. AIR WARRIORS. +5
3. IGP. -5
4. HURRICANES -19
1. MFM +20
2. SUNSHINE. +8
3. HOT COAL. -8
4. NOVENA. -20
1. KADA. +18
2. 1st BANK. +3
3. DELTA FORCE. -3
4. CITY SPARKS. +18
1. OSUN PEARLS. +18
2. CUSTOMS. +14
3. PLATEAU. -14
4. AMAZONS. -18