By Babatunde Ogunrinde
No fewer than 36 players featured in the first real actions at the Organised Basketball Network (OBN) Academy arena located at Plot 8 Ogombo Road, Ajah, Lekki, in Lagos.
The young players had their feel of the state of the art arena to signal the opening of the basketball academy, put together by Obinna Ekezie, a Nigerian former professional Basketball player.
The players, comprising of 18 girls and 18 boys competed in three-pointer actions, basketball dunking competition and a full cut match.
Ekezie, the CEO of the academy, had made his mark in basketball representing great clubs such as Atlanta Hawks, L. A Clippers, Washington Wizards, Vancouver Grizzlies of the U.S. and many other leagues in Europe.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that his dream was to use his vast experience to get the right attention and the right platform to nurture youths to stardom.
“Nigeria youths are talented in the areas of sports, music, art and entertainments.
“If we create that platform for them to excel, indeed the sky is just the beginning for them to soar,’’ Ekezie said.
He said that the OBN Academy would also be delighted to work with the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).
He said he was ready to work with other stakeholders to discover and groom young talents across the country.
“OBN Academy is targeted at improving children’s skills in basketball and education.
“The academy is ready to expose young ones to quality basketball facilities, which is not available anywhere in the country for young players to learn the game.
“The players will also gain more experience through basketball lessons from experienced foreign and domestic coaches.’’
Also speaking to NAN, Tijani Umar, a stakeholder in basketball said he was delighted to be at the venue to see the state of the art basketball arena for youth’s development.
He said that ever since he knew Ekezie he had always wanted to do something for Nigeria.
“I am proud to see that he is finally fulfilling his dreams by doing exactly what he planned to achieve.
“It is a wonderful edifice; indeed this is having the right structure for the development of basketball in Nigeria.
“The youths are going to benefit immensely from this,’’ Umar said.
Similarly, Fortunate Emechite, a young female player said that she was delighted to be a part of the opening game.
Emechite hopes to continue to play in the arena.
“It is a beautiful arena for young players to learn the game and develop.
“We need more places like this because it gives us hope that some people care about our future,’’ Emechite said.
Mrs Blessing Nwachukwu, who brought her son to the academy, said that she was delighted to see such an arena for basketball and was confident that her son would be guided well.
“It is a good development and I am proud of what Mr Ekezie has achieved.
“The basketball academy will definitely develop a lot of young players for the country,’’ Nwachukwu said. (NAN)