*As First Bank unveils 10 new players, retain 8
Regina Iornumbe, one of the members of the First Bank of Lagos team that won the Zenith Bank Basketball League has denied her retention by the club. She emphatically said, “I am no more an Elephant Girl.” This is coming ahead of the club unveiling 10 new players last Friday at the Indoor Sports Hall, National Stadium Lagos. The Lagos-based club retained 8 players from the 18 players who played last season for the club.
Regina Iornumbe who was spotted by www.gongnews.net in Abuja was congratulated for being retained and she replied: “it may not be my own Regina. I am through with the club. I was told in a disgraceful manner before younger players how I am not needed. Two, I have my studies to finish in Kano. I am now a former Elephant Girl. I am unemployed and free for other clubs.”
At the end of last season, four Elephant Girls left for college while 6 were dropped ahead of the 2018 Zenith Bank Basketball league season.
D’Tigress star players Nkechi Akashili and Chioma Udeaja alongside Deborah Nwakama, Nkem Akaraiwe, Mary Isuambuk, Amaka Okonkwo, Biliqis Adekoya and either of Regina Iornumbe and Amarachi Ebeh have been retained by the back to back champions.
However, the list of new players for the 2018 league season include Sharon Ogheranduku, Bethel Ekperigha, Theresa Joy Ebiege, Isioma Vanessa Oduah, Tobilola Ogedengbe, Ifunanya Okoro, Esther Chinasa Okolie and Kelani Olasumbo.
Former First Bank forward, Bukky Daniel who took time off a year ago to get married, was also among players unveiled on Friday.
First Bank Basketball Club head coach, Peter Ahmedu is elated to have the new players in his fold.
He disclosed: “I am happy we did the screening and unveiling early so we have one to two months training before the start of the 2018 season. The screening was very tedious, we invited some players, some came on their own, I am happy some who came on their own made the team.”
“It was in three stages: skill ability, we picked 12 from 34 who came for the screening, went into coordination and fitness which lasted for another three days, then we merged the old and new players to determine if they were capable of measuring up with the older ones.
“We eventually dropped two players from the 12. I am very impressed they are almost at their level. It gave me hope that the screening process was not a failed one.”
The former Mark Mentors coach believes bringing in 10 players to the team won’t affect the team chemistry. “Bringing in 10 new players won’t destabilise the team. If I am building a long term team, I should be talking about more of the younger ones taking over in two years’ time with more experience,” said Ahmedu.
Ahmedu said he has successfully instilled his philosophy on the new players during the screening exercise. “First Bank is a winning team and we believe that hardwork pays. The new players understand the team they are coming into. We are going to do more than we are doing before to put them on their feet even if we have to increase our trainings from 4 to 6 hours daily so we can meet up our targets.”
Meanwhile, 14 year-old Grace John who is the youngest of them all is determined to be one of the best in the 2018 league season. “It is all about hard work and determination. Like the coach said, they first saw me at the 2017 Milo Championship where I represented Bayelsa and also at the Mark d ball tournament, Otukpo and then invited me for the screening exercise. I gave everything during the screening.
“By next season, I want to be the one of the best players in the league. I will not be intimidated by their heights or the experienced players in the team or in the league,” she said.