Lagos May 13, 2019
The Nestle Milo Secondary Schools Basketball Championships, designed to empower youths, no doubt left fond memories in the hearts of the fans in Bauchi, where its 2019 edition dunked off with the Sahara Conference finals.
The competition, now in its 21st edition, held for the first time in Bauchi and witnessed a fun-filled time at the Multipurpose Hall of Tafawa Balewa Stadium.
It dunked off on May 3, and at the end of all proceedings on May 8, the host city emerged victorious, winning the boys category.
The support of fans for the games was felt all through the arena, and at the end, Gen. Hassan Usman Katsina Unity College, Bauchi, parading energetic and strong-willed young players, made their state proud.
They rewarded the support of fans for the team, defeating the defending champions, Gen. Murtala Mohammad College, Yola, 38-35 for the ticket to the national finals.
With some 20 secondary schools participating in the event, the Coach Ahmadu Abba-led Bauchi boys, who were less fancied to win the Sahara Conference finals, shocked the whole city by picking up their first-ever national finals ticket.
An elated Abba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that his team had performed beyond expectation and that he was proud of the final results.
“It was a keenly contested final; we did what was expected, and I am proud to say that we would be better prepared ahead of the national finals.
“It is going to be our first time and we look forward to the competition, having narrowly missed out in the 2018 edition, losing in the final match to Gen. Murtala Mohammed College.
“It feels good to finally have our revenge and make progress to the national finals where we must be prepared because we expect tougher opposition,’’ Abba said.
Ibrahim Bello, who won the Most Valuable Player Award, told NAN that it was a great thing of joy for him winning the award and his school emerging the conference champions.
“We are happy to be winners, we have worked hard for this and it feels good to represent a school that believes in sports development.
“We are grateful for the support and we promise to do well at the national finals,’’ Bello said.
The Sahara champions received N100, 000 cash support for sports development in their school and also received branded basketball, certificates and the championship trophy for first place.
The second place teams in both male and female categories received each for themselves the sum of N70, 000, branded basketball and certificates for their efforts.
Government Secondary School, Numan, defeated Government Girls College, Doma, Gombe, 28-18 to clinch the first place trophy in the girls’ category and also a qualification to the national finals.
Daddy Peters, Head Coach of the team, told NAN that the team had great defence and offensive ball play and dominated the competition by crushing other opposition teams that came their way.
“We thank Nestle Nigeria for the opportunity to develop the youths in basketball and also inculcate the right values of hard work and good team spirit in them.
“It’s a great thing to know that there is a big company out there that supports the growth of youths through basketball; this makes our job easier.
“We can easily communicate with them because they don’t train for fun, but for a reputable competition which makes them work harder and increase in their knowledge of the game,’’ Peters said.
In the third place match for boys, Ahmadiyya College, Kano, beat Government Science and Technical College, Bukuru, 35-20.
The Government Secondary School, Zing, Taraba beat Government Girls College Bauchi, 11-6 to claim the third place prize in the female category.
The third place teams received N50, 000 each, branded basketball and certificates for their efforts.
Adamu Mohammed, the State Coordinator, expressed happiness over the successful hosting of the competition, thanking Nestle Nigeria for backing Bauchi to host the conference finals.
“I am happy and forever grateful for the role of Nestle Nigeria Plc in continuing to support the development of our youths through basketball.
`It feels good to win the boys category; indeed, it is an enterprising performance. We thank God for the trust Nestle Milo has in us to host a successful championships.
“Our team will go back to the training board and be better prepared as we also get set to back them to do well in the national finals,” he said.
Twenty schools from 10 states participated in the competition, with Government College, Maiduguri and Government Girls Secondary School coming from Borno.
Bauchi, the host city, had the eventual boys’ champions, Gen. Hassan Usman Katsina Unity College, Bauchi and Government Girls College, Bauchi.
Gombe had Pen Resource Academy, Gombe and Government Girls College, Doma, while Jigawa had representatives from Government Unity School Secondary School, Ringin and Government Girls Unity Secondary School, Malam Madori.
Kano had representatives from Ahmadiyya College, Kano and Government Girls Secondary School, Jogana, Kano.
Katsina had Family Support Secondary School, Katsina and Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Jibia.
Taraba had representatives from Government Science Secondary School, Jalingo and Government Secondary School, Zing.
Yobe came with Government Day Secondary School, Damaturu and Government Girls Unity College Damaturu, while Plateau had Government Science and Technology College, Bukuru and St Luis College, Jos.
NAN reports that the competition moved to College of Education Minna, Niger on May 11 for the North Central Conference, which will end on May 15.
The North Central Conference will produce the best male and female teams to represent the zone at the national finals coming up in Lagos.