03 January 2015

NIGERIA : Mark D'Ball - Ugboaja Emerges MVP as Experience Shuts Out ESPN

Otukpo — Nigeria's London 2012 Olympian, Ejike Ugboaja, was the star performance as 'Blame it on Experience' brushed aside ESPN on the eve of New Year Day in the final of the Mark D'Ball Basketball Tournament in Otukpo, Benue State.
The quality of the centre, who plays in Turkey for Istanbul Teknik Universitesi was reinforced as he emerged the final's Most Valuable Player, Best Rebounder and Highest Goal Score, ultimately boosting 'Blame it on Experience' which beat the youthful ESPN 86-77.
Experience had comfortable lead in all four quarters of the final aided mainly by downtown scores of Ugboaja, Igoche Mark, Abdulrahman Mohammed and Stanley Gummut. They took home the winning purse of N425,000 while ESPN got N300,000. Benue Braves got N170,000 as consolation prize for finishing third.
ESPN's only rally was in the closing phase of the match when they came within four points of the lead with three minutes on the watch. The match, viewed by a large crowd of revelers that cramped into Otukpo Sports Club, lived up to the hype as the star match given the scale of rivalry between both sides.
The final bore traces of vengeance given that it was ESPN that downed Experience in the quarter finals last year, while their semi-final defeat in the 2012 edition was inflicted by ESPN side.
At the end, 'Blame it on Experience' which in addition paraded the likes Ogor Odaudu, Tunji Awojobi, Usman Abubakar, Johny Alla and Osita Nwachukwu, won their third Mark D'Ball title.
Former national team captain, Awojobi, said though ESPN tried to outrun them on the court, ultimately deciding factor was maturity. "They are younger and athletic but we used our experience. We retained our composure and measured our game and did not give them upper hand," Awojobi sounded.
Ugboaja told reporters that ESPN would learn from the defeat while ESPN's big centre Chibuzor Njoku maintained that they lost because of carelessness.

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