Can Deepwater Drown 'Em?

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In less than 24 hours, reigning champions of Nigeria Women’s Basketball League, First Deepwater basketball club of Lagos will seek to defend their title when they take on Sunshine Angels club of Akure in one of the semi-final matches at the ongoing Zenith Bank sponsored Final Eight of Nigeria women’s basketball league holding at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.

In the second semi-final match, former champions, First Bank club of Lagos will slug it out with Dolphins Basketball Club of Lagos.

To get to this stage of the league, the Coach Lateef Erinfolami tutored-side maintained their unbeaten runs.

In the first phase that held at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Abuja National Stadium in March, the Oil and Gas ladies, as Deepwater are popularly called won all their matches to lead group A that consisted nine other teams.

The team, sponsored by First Deepwater Discovery Limited, continued their impressive performance when the second phase dunked-off in Asaba, Delta State in June.

Playing against some renowned hard fighting teams in the league like IGP Queens, Plateau Rocks, FCT Angels and Coal City Queens, the defending champions still went undefeated in all the matches played in Asaba.

A feat that secured their qualification for the final 8 playoffs holding in Lagos.

Contrary to critics’ stand that the final eight playoff would pose a stiffer challenge for Deepwater, they won all the three matches they have played so far in the first round of the final eight in Lagos.

The Oil & Gas ladies were in splendid performance in their first match on Saturday as they out-dunked Customs 71-34, and on Sunday they defeated Plateau Rocks by 88-50.

To maintain a hundred percent record and remained top of group-A, Deepwater recorded an 87-62 victory over Dolphins in the last group-A game played on Monday.

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With the victory, Deepwater set up a mouth watering semi-final clash against Sunshine Angels who finished second behind First Bank in group-B, while First Bank will confront Dolphins who finished second in group-A in the second semi-final on Thursday.

The Elephant Girls, as First Bank team are also known, have not suffered a defeat since the league dunked off in March in Abuja.

After winning all their matches in the first and second phases held in Abuja and Asaba respectively, the coach Aderemi Adewunmi led team have tasted victories against IGP Queens, FCT Angels and Sunshine Angels in the third phase in Lagos.

First Bank are ready to reclaim the league trophy they once held for almost a decade, according to coach of the team after their game against Sunshine on Monday.

Coach Adewunmi believes the young players he used to prosecute the league for the last two seasons are now matured enough to wrestle the league title against the more matured and experienced players of the Deepwater.

“When you compare majority of our players since 2000 with their counterparts in other clubs, you will realise that we have the youngest set of players in the league. Our aim this year is to go for the league title because most of the players are more matured now and pschychologically, they are ready to compete with their counterparts in Deepwater for the trophy,” Adewunmi boasted.

While both semi final pairings are delicately poised, a clash of the titans awaits fans of the women’s league if both Deepwater and First Bank make it to the grand finale scheduled to hold on Sunday.

The question on the lips of pundits of the sport is if Deepwater will be able to retain the league title they have won successively in the last three years? Only time will tell!

—Bamidele Olowosagba

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