The regular season of the 2016/2017 Kwese Premier Basketball League came to a close on Saturday in both the Atlantic and Savannah Conferences with the fate of the bottom teams decided.
Kwara Falcons, Rivers Hoopers, Hoops & Read, Nigeria Customs, Oluyole Warriors and Police baton have all made it to the Atlantic Conference 6 playoffs while Delta Force survived after win over Hoops & Read sending NAF Rockets to relegation.
At the top, it was a tough battle between the top two teams, Kwara Falcons and Rivers Hoopers with both sharing periods on the leadership log during the regular season.
Ilorin based Kwara Falcons have been a bogey side for Hoopers, beating the Ogoh Oduadu led team thrice (3-1) during the regular season.
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One player, who has played a major role for the Falcons contributing in double figures and also in defensive duties, is Mojubaoluwa Oyeleye.
Oyeleye is a small forward from Edu Abon in Osun State and was born on 24th May, 1991 in Ibadan, Oyo state. He attended Atma-d nursery and primary school now called Best Prime primary school in Ibadan. Oyeleye also attended Marina international college before going on to study mechanical engineering at the University of Ibadan. Oyeleye was a ‘bookworm’ during his school days, he graduated with a BSc second class upper degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2012. Till date, he is yet to practice in his area of discipline because of the passion he has for basketball.
The Falcons forward started playing basketball in 2001, and was fortunate to have an ex international as a coach and teacher during his secondary school days named Mr. Dominic Osarieme Ojehonmon a.k.a apache who introduced him to the game of Basketball and taught him most of what he learned before going professional in 2006.
“I decided to take the sports of basketball professionally in the year 2006 and played for Oluyole Warriors as my first team between 2013 and 2016. It was actually coaches in my university that introduced me to the Oluyole Warriors team. Before then, I helped Oyo State in the sports festival in Eko 2012 finishing second after beaten by team Rivers.”
Oyeleye loves playing basketball as his hobby, reads sometimes and also watch movies too. When asked his preference, he chose education ahead of basketball which he thinks is a priority but for the passion of the game, he would take basketball over education any time and would want be a part of the game for a very long time.
“I want it to continue as long as possible, and even after playing, I want venture into club management or coaching, as long as the sports of basketball is concerned, I just want to be involved with the game of basketball.”
The native of Osun State hopes to play in a higher league most preferably the NBA. He is single, not searching while he takes his time to get it right. At the moment he tries to friend zone all the ladies that come around him to avoid distraction. A reserved person that would rather remain home than party or go clubbing.
It is believed Nigeria basketball league players face tough challenges especially financially, and that’s why interests to play abroad is very high. Players are said not to earn enough so they have to do other things and not depend on basketball alone. Interestingly, Oyeleye engages himself in producing edible oil which he started last year to add to his earnings from basketball.
“Well it depends on how you look at it if you look at the big picture and take a view about the deals or you dreaming to play for the big teams then basketball goes beyond the shores of Nigeria but if you want to stay in your comfort zone then you have to find something doing to support the basketball.”
“I had opportunity to apply for jobs, because I did well in school but I don’t think ill dump my passion for basketball for engineering inspite of the little earnings from the game here in Nigeria. It sounds awkward for a second class upper student. It was difficult for my parent to accept me as a basketball player they acted like most Nigerian parents but now they are very supportive.”
Oyeleye can be said to be a complete athlete, he plays other sports like swimming, track and field, volleyball but not professionally. Though football used to be his favourite, basketball has overshadowed all. He loves to watch the NBA and is a fan of Houston Rockets.
Last season brought about two different leagues,and the power tussle in Nigeria basketball was made obvious. The introduction of the Africa basketball league, ABL caused the disqualification of the three Lagos teams who participated in the league, they are Lagos Islanders, Dodan Warriors and Union Bank. Oyeleye was a part of one of the teams, Lagos Islanders but disclosed that he had no pre-knowledge of their decision to play in the ABL.
“I wasn’t attracted to ABL but to the team Lagos Islanders and I didn’t I know that they won’t be participating in the local league. I got to find out when I got to the team. Though I enjoyed the league, things were done differently, the arena, a top class event Centre. It was also an atmosphere where one will want to belong to, lightning, DJ, the way we sang the anthem before games, financial attraction, quality in terms of players organization and talent in terms of coaching.”
All that ended after one season when he didn’t get any information from the management, all efforts to get any proved abortive. This prompted his move to his current team, Kwara Falcons.
There was an out flux of players from the ABL at the end of the season. Oyeleye explained the reasons behind this situation.
“Well few of my friends I spoke with had different reasons why they left the ABL teams. To some, it was about the money to others, it was about the treatment they received were as to some, they were disappointed with the management to some, they realized they made a mistake in the first place they believed they were at the wrong place but to some they wanted more playing time.”
The Falcons forward has no regrets playing in the ABL last year and not disappointed with the issues that surrounded the league. He revealed that the ABL improved his game and basketball skills bringing a new dimension to his game.
His advice for NBBF, “I think there are two key important things the Nigeria basketball federation should push for a better league. One of it is to improve the quality of the league so that players and coaches can learn their trade and be marketable just as we have in our football leagues. So something of that magnitude needs to be put in place in basketball so that there will be more competition and people will be interested in the game of basketball.”
“The second one is media coverage, videos, social media, more pictures should be out there. We want to see more media representatives in our games, taking pictures this will go a long way in improving the game,” he said