The first quarter of the outgoing 2012 witnessed a busy schedule of events in the Nigerian basketball scene and on the international scene.

On the home front, the 2011/2012 DSTV-sponsored premier league was the first major event to dunk off in the outgoing year. The sixteen teams league, eight teams each in the Savannah and the Atlantic conferences, dunked off on 25 February, 2012.

Defending Champions of the league, Royal Hoopers club of Port Harcourt started their title defence on a bright note, as they defeated  Police club of Lagos 59-49 in the their first match on the home court. Following in their footsteps with home victories in the Atlantic conference were Dodan Warriors of Lagos and Union Bank club of Lagos, who both defeated Customs club of Lagos and Chariots club respectively in their first matches. However, Comets club of Lagos were not too lucky as they loss to Lagos Islanders club 60-64 on their home court.

Preceding the first jump ball of the new season was a stakeholder’s conference for all the teams in the Atlantic Conference held on 16 February in Lagos. That of the Savannah conference took place on 18 February in Abuja.

In the quarter under review, the wheelchair basketball players in the country besieged the Township Stadium in Asaba, Delta State for the maiden edition of Victor Ochei Wheelchair basketball tourney.

The week long championship sponsored by the Delta State House of Assembly Speaker dunked off 18-25 February, 2012. A sum of #2.5m was the prize money for the first placed team. Delta State team were the champions of the tourney. Speaking with P.MNews on the significance of the tourney, the secretary of Wheelchair Basketball of Nigeria, WBFN, Hajia Wasilat Abass said that the aim of the tourney was to help to develop special athletes in the country.

Also during the first quarter of the outgoing year, the Central Planning Committee of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry announced the introduction of basketball in the bi annual Oil and Gas Industry Games. According to the chairman of the committee, Peter Odjoji their decision to introduce the slamming and dunking sport into the games was to explore new ways of making the Games better and more inclusive.

The 2012 edition of Warriors basketball classic took place from 15-18 February at the Ilupeju Town basketball court in Lagos. The championship sponsored by Insurance and General Insurance Company, IGI, featured teams from different parts of the country and from the West African country Benin Republic. According to the chief organiser, Simon Evbuomwan, who spoke with P.MNews, the tourney was designed to help take youths of the streets by giving them opportunity to develop through the game of basketball.

Also in the first quarter of 2012, the first phase of the women’s basketball league tagged Zenith Premier League kicked off in Kaduna. The championship began on 15-29 March, 2012 with nine teams competing after the withdrawals of three other teams citing lack of funds.

The defending champions, First Deepwater of  Lagos continued their domestic league dominance as they won all their matches at the tourney to remain top of the log after the two weeks event. The Oil and Gas team as the Lateef Erinfolami tutored side are popularly called by their fans defeated former champions First Bank of Lagos 88-81 to brighten their chance of retaining the title.

Also in the first quarter of the outgoing year, Lagos State Basketball Association, LSBBA held a 3-day  workshop/seminar for its officials technical officials at the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos. The seminar which was declared open by the LSBBA chairman, Babs Ogunade was held through 14-16 March, 2012.

On the international scene, the Ferderation of International Basketball Association, FIBA launched 3×3 World Tour. A three-a-side basketball championship fashioned in line with FIFA’s street soccer world cup tagged Futsal. Also the Los Angeles Lakers became the most valuable team in the NBA. Lakers inked their new television deal with Time Warner Cable that began with the 2012-13 season becoming the NBA’s most valuable team, worth $900 million.

—Bamidele Olowosagba