The Nigerian DStv Basketball League finally tipped-off on Friday, March 20th, in time to avert a second postponement after several teams acknowledged being unprepared for March 13th, the original date. Consequently, the league board postponed commencement by a week.
As expected, there were upsets as well as impressive performances by different teams in their first game of the season after making key acquisitions during the off-season.
Though the Lagos Islanders fought hard in their first game against the visiting Kwara Falcons, it was not enough as it fell 90 to 93. Some basketball pundits still tip the Islanders as the team to beat in the Atlantic Conference due to some of its moves in the off-season. Coach Lateef Erinfolami, Islanders’ helmsman, was able to attract some experienced hands like Tunji Awojobi, a well-travelled big man with about two decades of experience in the United States. Even though Awojobi ranks amongst the oldest among active players in the league, he is confident that he has enormous fuel left in the tank and believes that the Islanders is the team to beat with him patrolling the paint. There is some credibility in his statement, if one is to look at the calibre of the other players on the team.
Besides, Awojobi, Islanders also added one of the best floor generals in the country in Olusola Alayande to its roster. The versatile point guard was with the Oluyole Warriors the past season and helped it get an impressive amount of wins. Mike Udoh, another seasoned forward/centre is also on the roster of the Islanders this season.
In what seemed like a battle of names, Dodan Warriors lived up to reputation, crushing the Ibadan-based Oluyole Warriors by 31 points. The game ended 72-31.
While it may be a tad bit too early to speculate, there is no denying the fact that the Islanders would still have to go through either the Mark Mentors or the Kano Pillars if it has its eyes on the league title. Both Kano Pillars and the Abuja-based Mark Mentors are two of the strongest teams in the country and without a doubt the top two in the Savannah Conference from their performances in the previous two seasons.
The matches between the Kano Pillars and the Immigration, as well as that between the Mark Mentors and Plateau Peaks were postponed for obvious reasons. Both Pillars and Mentors have most of their players on the Nigeria D’Tigers team currently participating in a Four Nations Challenge in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Complete results of matches played on Friday, March 20th:
Delta Force 60 – 53 Police Baton
Union Bank 40 – 61 Customs
Kwara Falcons 93 – 90 Islanders
Dodan Warriors 72 – 41 Oluyole Warriors
FCT Rocks 71 – 74 Bauchi Nets
Gombe Bulls 69 – 28 Kada Stars
Immigration Vs Kano Pillars (Postponed)
Mark Mentors Vs Plateau Peaks (Postponed)