By Lamin Fadera
Serekunda West won the Serekunda East 62 sets to 57 in the finals of the Africell Basketball championship in a pulsating game played at the KM Afri court at traffic lights on Friday.
Eight teams took part in the championship, but SereKunda West exhibited their superiority as the best team after defeating arch-rivals East Boys in a dramatic style.
Africell CEO Hussein Diab Ghanem, the GBA eco members, and hundreds of basketball enthusiasts attended the final.
In the first quarter, Serekunda West overpowered Serekunda East by 16 sets to 4. The West boys maintained their dominance in the second quarter.
Serekunda East came from behind in the third quarter to surprise the West boys.
West made sure they got the last laugh after they scored big points and upset Serekunda East in the final quarter by 62 sets to 57 in the final 60 seconds of the game.
Speaking to Alkamba Times Sports, the head coach of Serekunda East Badara Jeng said he is disappointed that his boys lost the trophy to SereKunda West.
“Yea, I feel disappointed that we lost the final to Serekunda West, but that is final; there must be a winner and a loser.
Serekunda West and East is a derby game; it couldn’t be easy, though, I was expecting a win on our side and their side, but it is just a game.
We always wanted to win against our arch-rivals, West,” said Coach Jeng
The Captain of Serekunda East, Adama Cham, despite scoring 16 points, the highest number of points in the final, said he is disheartened to lose the final to Serekunda West.
Cham told the TAT sports that Allah decreed they would lose the final. He said he knew the factors that led to his side’s defeat in the final, and they will improve on that to avoid such mistakes.
“I am disheartening right now, we could have won the game, but this is just a decree. We were not supposed to win this game, which is how it went down. We could have won the game but lost it due to some factors; it didn’t go down nicely. We are basketball players and know there must be a winner and a loser, but I am okay. We move on and prepare for the next tournament,” Cham said.
Cham thanked Africell Gambia Limited for organizing such a basketball competition and urged them to continue such wonderful gestures towards Basketball.
Coach Salifu Colley of Serekunda West said he wasn’t surprised with his side’s victory. Colley said he wasn’t happy with the final scoreline because they could have scored more points than the 62 points they won the final with.
He alluded to the win over East Boys as a rehearsal ahead of the upcoming final in the league against the YMCA.
“Alhamdulillah, I am happy that we won; when I saw that we won the first and second quarters, I knew we would win the title. We allow them to win the third quarter and upset them in the final quarter.
I am not impressed with the scoreline because we missed a lot of points, we could score more points, but we will try and take this as a rehearsal before the next final in the league. We are grateful to Africel for organizing such a competition; this is good for Basketball,” Colley told TAT Sports.
Captain Muhammed Kebbeh of Serekunda West said before the Africell Basketball championships began, he thought it would be an easy tournament for his side. But things turn out to be more challenging for the West boys. He urges the government to build more infrastructure in the country and support Basketball.
“Well, we are happy to win this title, but it was not easy as initially thought. All the teams gave us a challenging ride, but we used our experience to win today. Our opponent Serekunda East has a good side. They made us work today, a rehearsal ahead of the big final, and we kept our focus to win this title; we won the first and second quarters, but it wasn’t easy in the third quarter, but we used our strength and experience to win the game. Now our next focus is the league finals.”
As Champions of the eight-team championships, Serekunda West went home with a giant trophy and a cash price of 50 thousand dalasis, while runners-up Serekunda East received a consolation prize of 25 thousand dalasis.
Paul Barben of Serekunda West won the Most Valuable Player award in the final.
In the final, Adama Cham of Serekunda East scored the highest point, 16, while Abubakar Cham of Serekunda East won the Most valuable player of the championship.
Reactions of GBA and Africell
The Director of cooperating affairs at Africell, Musa Sise, highlighted the significant role Africell has played in developing sports in the Gambia.
He said this partnership with the Gambia Basketball Association will continue, and Africell will organize more competitions with the GBA.
“I can tell you that this tournament is going to be repeated and expanded to become even bigger than this, we going to make sure we make it more conducive, and we will try and go to other zones as well to at least give people hope in sports that something is possible in here. We appreciate these people coming because we must consult them, work with the Association, and appreciate them, “Musa Sise told TAT Sports.
Despite the challenges faced by the Association, the Secretary General of the GBA, Aliou Nyang, hailed Africell for coming up with such a gigantic tournament.
He said the Association is looking for partners to work with, and Africell Gambia Limited came to the rescue, and ‘this means so much to the Association. He thanks the leading GSM operator for their keen interest in Basketball and urges Africell to continue such a remarkable move.’
“This tournament means everything to the Basketball family; honestly, this is what we have been looking for. We are looking for a partner to engage with, A partner who is committed to youth development through Basketball and all facets of Basketball throughout. This partnership is something we cherish, and we want to see more of this. SG Nyang said.