Coach of 2019 Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League champions Air Warriors Victor Owolabi says he always knew his team would end up as champions.
Warriors, in the first-ever season in the league, beat MFM Queens 55-53 on Thursday at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium to become just the fourth team to win Nigeria’s premier women’s basketball league title.
And for Owolabi, there was never any doubt that his girls would end the season hoisting aloft the league trophy.
“It feels good, it feels very very great, I mean, speechless right now,” Owolabi said after his team were crowned champions.
“But from the beginning of the league, we actually saw this coming, but it took us a while, because all we were about was just hard work, defence, and we tried to talk to the girls that they should try and play their mind, “just play your mind”, if you know you want to be a champ you have to work hard for it, that’s what happened. I thank God, we’re champions already.”
Having defeated MFM Queens earlier in the Final 8, Owolabi said he didn’t regard them as “a threat” heading into the final and remarked that his team’s aggressive high court defensive approach was in keeping with their ethos
“They were not a threat. But then, we hard to work hard to get where we are today,” Owolabi said.
“The name says it all man, Air Warriors. We’re warriors, we don’t ever back down, we don’t ever back off. We’re forward ever, backward never. The best way to attack is to defend. That’s what we do. So we’re just warriors, that’s our aim. Our aim is to come out hard and physical, and all about this. That’s how it is,” Owolabi said of his team’s approach.
Having cracked the league at the first time of asking and imbibed in the intoxicating wine of victory, Owolabi whose side dispatched reigning champions First Bank in the semifinals on their way to the title says his charges will retool, recharge and redouble their efforts in order to repeat this season’s heroics next season.
“Well, to God be the glory, we’re champions already. So the rest we’re leaving to God. We’re still going to go back to the drawing board though, we’re going to work harder because to be a champ, to maintain being a champ is more difficult than trying to ascend up.
“So, by God’s grace, I know definitely by the grace of God, come next year, we’re going to hold up that cup, by the grace of God.”
But before then, he says Air Warriors will aim to win the FIBA Zone 3 Women Club Championship qualifiers holding in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
“Yeah, we’re going for it, by the grace of God we’re going for it. And we want to appeal to Nigerians, to put us in prayers, because it is by their prayers and support that we have gone this far.”