The 2022 edition of Mark D Ball women’s basketball championship got underway on Saturday evening, with Sunshine Angels of Akure out-dunking Hotcoal Slizzers of Abuja 28-20.
Prior to the opener, players of all the 16 participating teams, aptly dressed in fitting branded Mark D Ball tops marched into the Court of the multi-purpose Indoor Sports Hall in Package B, with thousands of basketball faithful, their friends and family as well as a number of performing artists cheering them, from the stands.
Addressing the teams and spectators alike, the Initiator of the Championships, Igoche Mark, assured lovers of Basketball in Nigeria that plans are being perfected to have the tournament played constantly across the country, in a format replicating the NBA regular season games.
Mark said the New Face of Basketball is a project focused on the reviving the domestic component of the slam and dunk game.
He recanted how league and grassroots aspect of Basketball in Nigeria were deflated for a very long time and unable to bounce; and asked all stakeholders to rally round him as one United family to sustain the momentum and ensure that the inflated ball will keep on bouncing, uninterruptedly, by ensuring that games are played across the country, regularly.
At his unvieling, where he decleared his intention to run as President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF); Igoche also dwelled extensively on the deflated ball which has not been bouncing for a long time, and replaced it with an inflated ball, branded “Mark D Ball, the New Face of Basketball in Nigeria”.
He said his target was to see the ball bouncing non-stop, and the young ones play as many games as possible just like in the NBA where 82 games are played in a regular season.
“Even if we cannot play 82 games, let’s play something close. This is what the New Face of Basketball is all about,” Mark stated.
The young sportpreneur was visibly pleased with the massive turn out for the opening ceremony, and praised Nigerians and corporate bodies who still believe in the game, and demonstrated such by committing resources and co-sponsoring the rejuvenated Championships.
Asked how he was able to put together such a huge event, Mark added that effective planing, and mobilising passionate and committed young men and women to get things done, were key to the success story witnessed at the opening ceremony.
“The turn out has been massive, everybody is happy to play. Effective planning is key, we put a whole lot to planning. We have a lot of sponsors who still believe that Nigeria basketball can still rise again, we approached them and they obliged our request,” Mark added.