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FIBA Youth Camp MVP, Oluwatobi, is destined for stardom, says Raptors’ coach

By Christian Okpara
09 October 2021   |   4:06 am
Emmanuel Oluwatobi has all the ingredients that make for a major basketball star. The 7’4 lad reminds one of the famed Manute Bol.

Oluwatobi

Emmanuel Oluwatobi has all the ingredients that make for a major basketball star. The 7’4 lad reminds one of the famed Manute Bol. The difference, however, is that while the Sudanese learnt the sport at an advanced age, Oluwatobi has been playing the sports from childhood.

Recently in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the young Nigerian was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the FIBA Youth Camp, which the world basketball governing body organised for African kids in conjunction with the NBA.

Oluwatobi was so good at the camp that he was selected, alongside four other Nigerians, for residency in the FIBA Camp pursuant to a professional career in the sport.

This is a route so many great players of the game took on their way to stardom, and Raptors Basketball Academy coach, Charles Ibeziako, believes Oluwatobi is destined to play basketball at the highest level, “if he calms down.”

The FIBA Africa Youth Camp held in three African cities — Nairobi (Kenya), Saly (Senegal) and Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) — last month with boys and girls from different African countries attending the FIBA-NBA joint initiative.

The Abidjan FIBA Africa Youth Camps, which held from September 15 to 18, was run by FIBA experts, Naoufal Uariachi and Nour Amri and NBA experts Joe Touomou and Craig Madzinski.

A total of 15 coaches, including Ibeziako, assisted in the implementation of activities at the Palais des Sports Treichville in Abidjan. 

“If he (Oluwatobi) calms down and listens, he’ll make it at top level basketball because he’s a great talent,” Ibeziako said.

“After being named the MVP of the FIBA camp, he needs to learn more. Right now, he’s good for college basketball.”

On the quality of the camp in Abidjan, Ibeziako added, “It’s one of the biggest basketball camps in Africa right now. They’ve been organising the camps to discover talents all over Africa… it’s a great initiative.”

Speaking on his feat, an excited Oluwatobi, who is nicknamed Emma Airflow by his manager, Nnamdi Agbakoba, said he had to put in extra effort to emerge the best talent in Abidjan.
“It wasn’t easy. It was very tough,” he said at a recent media parley in Lagos.

“I felt pains all over my body but my coach (Ibeziako) kept pushing me, making me work harder. When I was first invited for the camp in Abidjan, I didn’t have money for the COVID-19 tests as well. But thanks to God, money came later and I was able to make the trip. It’s a great experience that I will forever cherish.”