Nigeria Customs win 2022 Mark D Ball Men’s Championship
Nigeria Customs, at the weekend, defeated Abuja team, Mo Heat, by 61 to 55 points to become the 2022 champions of Mark D Ball Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The final game of the Elite Eight Tournament at the Indoor Sports Hall, Package B of the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, was witnessed by basketball lovers from within and outside the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
D’Tigers star, Ibe Agu, who captained Customs, contributed 17 points, two fewer than his team mate, Michael Daramola, whose 19 points was matched by Mo Heat’s top scorer, Bright Akhuetie.
Owen Michael could only manage 13 points for Mo Heat, who literarily lost their way in the last quarter. Among eminent personalities at the final were a representative of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Abba Yola, a former Senator representing Kogi West Senatoral zone, Dino Melaye and Directors of Sports from the FCT, Plateau, Niger and Benue states.
Going into the final, Mo Heats were unbeaten and favourites to take the title, having already beaten the Customs side in the build of to the last match.
The first quarter ended 15-15, with both teams fighting hard in the second quarter and even at the end of the third quarter, it was still a tight game at 47 baskets apiece.
Showing more zeal and purpose in the last quarter, Nigeria Customs pulled away and eventually held off a late challenge mounted by Mo Heats to win the final by six clear points.
Victory ensured that they emulated their womenfolk, who also won the ladies’ tournament towards the end of 2021.
On the other hand, defeat for Mo Heat, was their very first and only loss in the 32-team tournament.
Kanyinsola Odufuwa top scored with 25, while Wisdom Anyaoha had 17 dunks as Gombe Bulls won the third Place game that preceded the final, beating Kano Pillars, 67 to 62, to take the N1 million bronze medal prize money.
The Bulls had earlier prevailed 63 to 57 against the Sai Masu Gida when both sides in the opening stages. Kano Pillars’ undoing was overreliance on veteran captain, Abubakar Usman, whose 14 points and two assists, fell short of unsettling the Bulls from Gombe, who triumphed despite the absence of their head coach on the bench.
For their victory, Nigeria Customs got N2 million as prize money, while the losing finalist, Mo Heat took home N1.5 million.