BY QUEEN MOSEPH
Rivers Hoopers have strengthened their roster by recruiting Kano Pillars power forward, Abdul Yahaya ahead of their Group A games at the FIBA Africa Basketball League next month in Morocco.
Yahaya who was a member of the D’Tigers silver winning squad in 2017, scored a total of 39 points in five games at the 2017 FIBA 3X3 Africa Cup in Togo and also represented Nigeria at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
He led Mark Mentors to the 2015 DSTV Basketball league title and emerged as the most valuable player of the competition and won the title with Pillars the following year.
Yahaya said he is in Port Harcourt to win and also do well with the club: “My target is to qualify from the group stage of the FIBA ABL and go far in the competition. We need to work hard and prepare because it’s an international competition not local.”
At the 2017 FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifiers in Lagos, Yayaha was named most valuable player, highest rebounder and highest scorer as Kano Pillars claimed the title in Lagos. He went on to play for Pillars at the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup in Tunisia.
Despite losing to AS Sale in their opening game 112-83 points, Yahaha was top performer for Pillars as he scored 22 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
Yahaya gave a hint of what to expect when Hoopers play against AS Sale in their opening Group A game in Morocco and he’s confident the Port Harcourt side will come out of the group unscathed.
“Basketball is about your mind set your team mates should be ready to play and work as a unit and if we do, we will do well against any team we play against because those guys are well prepared, well paid and equipped, they don’t think about any other thing apart from basketball and they don’t care about the condition they are in they just have to deliver. They don’t just come a short time they have been together for a very long time. With the team I saw at practice today, they are young and have passion for the game and I believe we have a better team.”
The former Mentors forward averaged 17.6 PPG, 5th overall and 8.4 RBG, 6th overall at the 2017 FIBAACC.
Yahaya believes he is unstoppable having played in the last five continental championship for Mark Mentors and Kano Pillars coming out in the top 5 scorers at the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup.
“The Tunisian team we are playing against is not the Tunisian League champions, Rades. I have played against those teams before apart from the one from Guinea (SLAC). If we put our heads together, I know no one in that Tunisian (JS Kairouan) or Moroccan team (AS Sale) that can stop me because at the last continental I was among the top five scorers of the tournament. They will also be scared so we just need to put our heads together,” he reiterated.
Head coach Ogoh Odaudu is confident Yahaya’s qualities will help the team achieve their target at the FIBA Africa Basketball League and all through the 2019 season.
Rivers Hoopers will begin their FIBA ABL campaign taking on defending champions AS Sale of Morocco on March 1.