This year, Accra Basketball fans have had the opportunity to see Braves of CEPS/GRA match up against Adenta Leopards five times. Twice in the two-round all-play-all league and an epic three game playoff series. Out of the five games, three of them were decided by less than 8 points between the two teams.
Certainly, a new rivalry in Accra Basketball has emerged. The Braves – Leopards match up will be the must-see game in Accra Basketball for many years to come.
Leopards won Game 1 at the Cantonments Court last Thursday. They won playing without shooting guard Emmanuel Wolf who we understand has some issues with the club. Braves’ fans on the other hand would argue that their team played without their veterans Dodzie who was attending to some family issues and Patrick who is on suspension.
In Game 2 on Saturday, Braves had Dodzi back. Paapa was still out on suspension. They also played without Daniel Aryee (Doggy) who apparently played hurt in Game 1 but decided to sit out the rest of the playoffs. Leopards played without Wolf. Leopards’ forwards Guba (Astro) and Nana Bissue (Chronic) who picked up injuries in Game 1 played heavily bandaged thanks to the Military medical team who supported Accra Basketball throughout the playoffs.
Despite Thomas Amediku’s 22 points, Braves won Game 2 convincingly. Djimate led the Braves in scoring with 16 points. Emmanuel Amoah added 13. James Pappoe and Abbey were also scored double digits.
Playoff games have always been about adjustments so it was not surprising to see guys like Djimate and Nii Kwate come out looking for their shots and making them. Leopards played well in Game 2 but CEPs wanted it more and also had homecourt advantage.
The third and final game to decide the winner of the Benjamin Baafi trophy was another instant classic. Leopards opened the scoring with Guba (Astro) hitting a trademark fadeaway jumper from the left corner. Alhassan Mutalib responded with a three pointer. Kontor came right back and hit a deep three. Mutalib responded with yet another three on the very next possession. Lebanon House was buzzing!
The first quarter finished with a Pinto lay up (assist from Joel Tham) and a Joel three plus a two point jumper from Thomas. Hashim from CEPS also got on the score sheet.
With Leopards leading 14 -10 at the start of the second quarter, Braves came out a little more aggressive in the second. The league’s MVP , Suleman (Big Time) got on the sheet with a rebound put back. CEPS tied the game at 14 points. Joel got 4 straight points and gave his team back the lead. Later, Leopards opened up a 10 point lead at 26 -16. It was at this point where Kontor got his third foul. Something that haunted the Leopards in Game 2 and will later haunt them in Game 3. By the end of the second quarter, CEPS had reduced the 10 point margin to 5. The score was 28 – 23.
Kontor was back on the court to start the third quarter and justified it by immediately getting on the score sheet. Big Time responded for CEPS. Joel came back with a three and free throws to get the Leopards back the 10 – point cushion they had. CEPS stepped up defence and Hashim scored 4 straight points to bring his team back within 6 points. Thomas hit a 3 to send the lead back to 9 points and CEPS at this point went on a rampage. With shots from Big Time, Pappoe and Djimate, the nine-point cushion was erased and the score was tied at 40. The third quarter ended 42 – 44 in favour of CEPS.
The first part of the fourth quarter was like a chess game. Joel Tham levelled the game 44 for Leopards. Dodzi’s two pointer untied it and Joel tied it back again at 46. Kontor hit another three and Mutalib levelled the game at 49. Kontor’s last shot of the game was a three which gave the Leopards a 1-point lead at 52-51. Sadly, he fouled out after this and with 3.40 minutes to go the Leopards had to play without a huge contributor both on offense and defence. Probably, just probably if Wolf had been in the game the result might have been different.
Mutalib hit yet another three pointer to give the Braves a 2 point lead which they did not relinquish until the game ended 56 -60 in favour of CEPS.
Big Time was crowned MVP for the entire season averaging almost 11 rebounds and more than 3 blocks per game.
In a short speech to end the season, Mr. Ayittey Bulley, President for the Greater Accra Basketball Association commended all stakeholders for a great season and promised a bigger season in 2020.