Government Secondary School, Gboko, Benue and Father O’Connel Science College, Minna, Niger State have emerged as champions in the female and male categories respectively at the 21st Nestle Milo Secondary School Basketball Championship.
The finals held at the Indoor Sports Complex of the Niger State College of Education Minna, saw the Team Benue defeating Government Secondary School, Karu, Abuja 30 – 23 to emerge as the Central Conference female champions.
In the male category, Team Niger defeated Christ Comprehensive College, Kaduna 35-18 to be crowned as the champions.
Both set of champions were given N100,000 cheque, certificate and branded buses for their schools.
In his speech, the Branch Manager, North Central, Folabi Adeleye said the school games have grown beyond being just a sport to a passion that helps to discipline the body and mind.
“While the game requires hard work, players also learn to exert their skills each time they participate in the games. In fact,, young people have a lot to learn from playing basketball because it instills critical values such as discipline, determination, respect and teamwork in them,” he said.
Speaking with Team Kaduna coach, James Jatau after the game, he admitted his boys lost focus during the match to lose to the defending champions.
“It is a normal thing to win some and lose some. My boys just lost focus and the ones that had better listening ears won. I won them just that the scoreboard says otherwise. We are winners and we will never give up,” he said.
He further expressed his optimism at playing in the national finals despite losing the final berth.
“Let’s wait for the outcome from the other zones if we will have the opportunity to play in the national finals as the best losers,” he concluded.
In the same vein, the winning team coach, Emmanuel Tanko expectedly was joyful at defending the trophy.
“I am very joyful. The journey had not been easy right from the first match. We have tried to be coordinated in our games and you can see that we kept on improving in every game. The team work gets better and that is why we are at the stage we are in now.
Hardwork never stops and we will continue to train for the National Finals. All our inadequacies we saw throughout the tournament will be fixed. The finals is a bigger stage and we need to bring in our A game,” he said.
Emmanuel is however wary of complacency from his team and has set his sight on defending the trophy in Lagos.
“We will go to Lagos to defend our trophies but we will take into cognisance that other states will want to defeat us,” he concluded.
It will be noted that the championship was divided into conferences according to the geographical location of the states.
Each state produced a male and a female champion including the FCT while the state champions have played in the four regional conferences where they have vied for spaces in the National finals billed for the National stadium Lagos from June 27 to July 4, 2019.