End Of Year Review: Royal Hoopers Are League Champions In 2nd Quarter

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The second quarter of 2011 began to unfold from where the first quarter ended as local teams in the Nigeria Premier League continued to outdunked, outplayed and out dribbled one another in the slamming and dunking game in the country.

With just two games left in the Atlantic Conference as at the end of April, Union Bank Club found themselves at the top of the log after the Lagos State-based team beat Islanders of Lagos 86-56 points in their Week 11 match.

The victory over former Nigerian four time champions brought Union Bank’s record to 11-1 to garner a total of 23 points and displaced Royal Hoopers of Port Harcourt from the top of the log, while Comets, who started the season brightly, were relegated to the third position.

In the Savannah Conference, actions were halted due to the post presidential election crisis that engulfed the Northern region of the country.

But after it was certified by the NBBF that the crisis has been put under control, actions resumed at the conference for the teams to conclude their regular season.

The regular end of season DSTV Super 8 final play-off draw was held and four table topping teams from both the Atlantic and Savannah Conferences were drawn into two groups of four teams each.

The draw saw defending champions of 2009/2010 season, Kano Pillars, runners up, Royal Hoopers, Dodan Warrors of Lagos and Yelwa Hawks of Bauchi grouped together in Pool B, while Union Bank of Lagos, Kada Stars of Kaduna, Comets of Lagos and Bauchi Nets were all in Pool A.

After hostilities in the group stage, Kano Pillars were denied a bearth in the semi final as the Sani Ahmed-side suffered their second defeat in three games to go down by 82-79 points against Royal Hooper of Port Harcourt.

The victory against Pillars was all Coach Ogor Odaudu tutored Hoopers needed to get to the final after seeing off Kada Stars in the semi final game.

Their opponents in the epic final match was Coach Ayinla Johnson’s Union Bank, who outdunked Colonel Sam Ahmadu (retd.)’s side, Dodan Warriors, in their semi final match.

Royal Hoopers rose to the pre-final match billings as they went on to become the new domestic league champions after they defeated Union Bank by 102-72 points inside the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

In its bid to maintain discipline and professionalism, the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, wielded its big stick on Delta Force Club. The Delta State owned side were relegated to Divisional 1 due to their failure to honour their matches against Comets and Islanders on 19 and 20 March, 2011.

During the quarter under review, Coach Lateef Erinfolami was named as the new coach of the U-16 national female team after the former national team player distinguished himself in the women’s league club. He led them to win the league’s trophy for the first time ahead of First Bank.

Also, the Nigerian women’s Premier League received a boost from its sponsor, Zenith Bank. The bank presented a cheque of N15 million to the NBBF ahead of the start of this year’s regular season.

According to the bank’s Head of Philanthropy, Mrs. Eunice Sampson, the sponsorship was meant to sustain the growth and development of the game in the country.

On the international scene, after end of the regular NBA season, the slamming and dunking pundits shifted their attention to the semi finals of the Conference playoffs.

In one of the playoffs, Dallas Mavericks swept aside L.A Lakers’ challenge as they beat them 4-0 in the first four games to book their final ticket against Boston Celtics.