When Kwara Falcons played the NBBF Super 8 Finals against Customs in November last year, it was their second encounter with Customs in the competition and they knew they had to do something different. They had lost to Customs in the group stage, so to win the finals, a new strategy was required.
They turned to their young talents including Victor Ezeh and Dada Samuel, and they delivered. The Falcons dominated the finals with Ezeh deliver several three-pointers. To Coach Baba Jubril, these young lads are the future.
`You have to believe the people you bring to your team but I did not expect the level of basketball the boys played. This shows that there is a lot of potential in those guys if they are given an opportunity. Sports is evolving now, young guys are doing sports. Being young, their recovery rate is faster, and they are focused as well`
It was no surprise when Ezeh was invited to the DTigers camp in Abuja and made the final roster of players to represent Nigeria at the final window of the African qualifiers of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. His performance has been nothing but stellar.
In our first game against Cote D`Ivoire, Ezeh finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, giving us the must needed boost to win the game. Ezeh also showed up in the tight game against Guinea with 16 points and 3 rebounds. Ezeh is currently the highest scoring Nigerian on the roster at this window.
For his first national team call-up, he has handled himself quite well. Expectedly, he recognises the learning opportunity that such call up presents.
`I feel honoured to represent my country at this level. I have never played at this level of basketball before, so I want to get a feel for it. I want to learn, grow and prepare my mind for the BAL`
Ezeh and the rest of the team carry the responsibility of getting Nigeria to the World Cup in August. They have won two games so far, but the job is not done. They have to win their last game against Angola for a chance to emerge as `the best third` team.
Many Nigerians expressed skepticism when the all home-based team list was released. But after the two victories, the confidence in the team has grown. For Ezeh, this is an opportunity to prove a point.
`We hope to prove a point because, in the past, home-based players have not had enough opportunities to represent the country at the highest level. So we are here to show our country and fans that we understand the game and can play at the highest level.`
Ezeh is expected to join the rest of the Falcons team in camp in Abidjan after the qualifiers, as they continue to prepare for their debut at the Basketball Africa League. Victor Ezeh is a player to keep an eye on.