The Cinderella story came to an end for the youthful First Deepwater side, who will be representing Nigeria at the FIBA Club Champions Cup later this year despite falling to First Bank in the final of the Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League 53-84.
This time last season, the youngest side in the league were spectators at the Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League Final 8, not qualifying for the playoffs, but today are the 2nd best team in the country.
The side lead by former team assistant coach and Nigeria national team captain, Shola Shomala, who got the award for the 2017 coach of the year for her exploits, tutored her side to a 3-1 playoff record, coincidentally to First Bank during the group stage before losing yet again to the experience and deep bench of the defending champions 53-84 in the championship game.
Carried by the only surviving player from the championship winning team in 2013, Kasham Emmanuel who supplied 23 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals as First Deepwater outscored the defending champions 25-20 in a very interesting 3rd quarter despite being losing the first, third and final quarter 22-11; 23-11 and 19-6 respectively and falling by 31. The Young and enterprising Deepwater side gave the fans something to cheer despite the loss.
They forced First Bank who had 6 national team players on their roster to a game high 13 turnovers as compared to theirs’ which was 7, 23 fouls, when they (First Deepwater) committed just 19 and then out rebounding the Elephant Girls on the offensive glass with 13 boards to 12. Teenage sensations Mistura Subair, Vannesa Oduah, Blessing Obeten , Vivian Onugha, Isioma Oniawa and Chika Onurah all have bright futures ahead of them according to coach Shomala.
“I am proud of my girls, they are young and very inexperienced, but they showed they have the heart and I am really very proud of them.”
The 2017 Women’s coach of the year, coach Shomala, also added that the continent is next for them.
“We are going to the continent and I know it will even help the girls develop even more. A big thank you to our proprietor, Mr Tunde Babalola, for believing in us, the coaches and the girls. The future is bright for us as a team,” she said.