The crowd cheered as he lifted from the ground, two hands on the ball. I was filled with joy as he plucked two points on his way down. Our big man has brought us closer to the opponents with his superb lay technique. We were still down by 2 points as the score now is 44-42 in the opponent favour.
“20 seconds to go” the timer shouted and as he started the count down (audibly since we do not have a time board) “19…, 18…, 17…”. 20 seconds to go in the 4th quarter, 20 seconds and the game is over.
“Defence” shouted our point guard. I wanted to object to this but no time, I can not disobey, not now. We were now playing defence waiting for the opponents to attack but they had other ideas, obnoxiously wasting time, passing the ball around. “15…, 14…, 13…” the timer was still counting down.
Just in a split second, our big man broke formation and rushed towards the ball. His opponent was good and dribbled him without hesitation and went for our basket. This would surely close the game. I watched, helplessly. As he jumped, our big man from behind jumped and slapped the ball off his hands. Like a magnet the ball landed in mine.
“7…, 6…” he continued calmly. Within two seconds I was already in the opponent’s half. “4…” the timer said.
An opponent was in my front, I have to dribble to move forward and make a basket but the big question “can I?”.
I could see our bigman, he is already under the opponents’ rim. If he gets the ball he will surely level the scores but I can not make a pass from my angle. However, our shooting guard is free and make a pass but “will he?”.
I know you are the shooting guard, that’s your role but it does not mean you shoot the ball every time it is in your possession. He may not pass this ball but shoot instead I feared. If he makes the shot from this zone, the 3points-zone, we would win but what if he does not. That is a 50-50 I might not want to risk. Passing the ball to the bigman is the best and safest plan but do I trust him to have this insight as well.
I can hear our point guard shouting behind me, “pass the ball” he said. 4 seconds to go and he is behind asking for the ball. Was that my problem? Or maybe because I wanted his role, to be the leader, make the tactical decision and control the team. I have found some of his decisions tactless. He is just the point guard because he dribbles and shoots better than I do. He is the leader and all balls to him, that is our rule.
I can not make out where the fifth and last member of my team was then, so just the four of us. My mind was racing through these options, all time spent playing for 4 quarters would be decided now. I have to choose right.
I have to make a choice, trust in my own abilities and go solo; or believe in my team and hope that they make the best move. I do not know how it will turn out, I never do. Right now I have to make the choice I will regret least.
I looked at the timer as he said “3…”. I have made up my mind and I am sticking to it. I held the ball close to my chest with both hands and…
BY UCHENNA NNAMANI