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Tana Aiyejina

Hard-fighting Dolphins were hard done by after missing several chances on Wednesday, thus handing the 2018 Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League title to defending champions First Bank.

The Elephant Girls retained their title after beating 2015 champions Dolphins 84-66 in the final of the Final Six inside the indoor sports hall of the National Stadium, Lagos.



Dolphins found themselves down 22-7 in the first quarter of the tie against their highly experienced opponents led by D’Tigress star Nkechi Akashili. They struggled in the second quarter as they fell 43-19.

But whatever coach Ochuko Okworogun told her girls during the break worked wonders on resumption of the third quarter. Backed by the fans, the youthful Dolphins side began an amazing resurgence powered by the diminutive Veronica Charles, to win the third quarter 24-14.

But still they had a herculean task on their hands as score stood at 57-43 in favour of First Bank.

Crowd favourite Charles was a thorn in the flesh of First Bank players all through the encounter, dribbling and waltzing her way through the opponents’ defence, but it was too little too late as First Bank triumphed 84-66 to claim a third consecutive title.

Dolphins were rewarded with N1.2m while winners First Bank got N1.5m.

Earlier in the third-place match, Nigeria Customs defeated debutants MFM 57-49 to take home the N1m cash prize.

Chairman, Punch Nigeria Limited, Angela Emuwa, who was at the venue to cheer Dolphins, praised the team’s young players for putting up a good fight in the final.

She stated, “It was an interesting game. At the beginning, they were not at their best but after the first half, they did better than their opponents by scoring more points. It shows that they could have won the game. These girls are new, they came together in January and then we had the sad passing on of their chairman, so for a while they were off. But First Bank have been together for years with experienced players.”



Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Peter Amangbo, paid tribute to late Dolphins proprietor, Wale Aboderin.

“I want to use this opportunity to remember a personal friend of mine and owner of Dolphins, Wale Aboderin. For those that know him, we will continue to miss him. Wale was a game himself; you always found it difficult to know his true position in the team. I’m happy he’s ably represented here by his sister and daughter,” he said

He assured the Nigeria Basketball Federation of the bank’s partnership.

“I want to assure everyone that it is no longer a sponsorship, but a partnership with the NBBF that will last for long. I want to appeal to all the players to be more dedicated and focused on their careers and also look up to the future.”

@seuncoded

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