ECC Leader - Eyimofee Edukugho (Warri, Nigeria) 22 points, 10 rebounds
N.Y. – Feb. 4 – Erie Community College head men's basketball coach Alex
Nwora won his 254th career game at ECC with the Kats' 98-77 win over
Niagara County Community College Saturday afternoon at the Flickinger
Center. The 254 wins set the ECC record, previously held by George
Killian, who coached the Kats from the 1954-55 to 1968-69 seasons.
The Kats, the nation's 11th-ranked team, improved to 15-3 overall and 5-1 in Western New York Athletic Conference play. ECC was led by freshman forward Eyimofee Edukugho (Warri, Nigeria/Our Savior New American School) as he posted his second-straight double-double with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Uche Ogbonna (Westbury, N.Y./Hicksville) added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Dequan Jones (Brooklyn, N.Y./Pacific) and Sam Hattin (Hamilton, Ont./Our Savior) added 12 and 10 points, respectively. As a team, ECC out-rebounded NCCC by a 53-28 margin.
NCCC (13-7, 5-3 WNYAC) was led by Isaiah Johnson's 20 points.
The Kats will play Tuesday night in Olean, N.Y., against Jamestown Community College-Cattaraugus Campus.
Photo: Erie Community College head men's basketball coach Alex Nwora won his 254th career game as the #11 Kats defeated Niagara County Community College Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y. Presenting Nwora with the game ball is Erie CC athletics director Peter Jerebko.
Erie CC's Achiuwa heading to St. John's
Star from Nigeria likes team's up-tempo pace
By Amy Moritz
Opportunity brought God's Gift Achiuwa from his home in Port Harcourt, River States, Nigeria, to Buffalo to play junior college basketball. And that's what will take him to New York City next year to continue his education and athletic career with St. John's.
Achiuwa made his announcement Thursday at the Flickinger Athletic Center, where he spent the last two years starring for the Erie Community College Kats.
The 6-foot-9 forward wanted to compete in the Big East on one of the biggest stages in college basketball.
"The main thing about St. John's is when I went for a visit, I liked their coaching staff and I liked their style of play," Achiuwa said. "They play very high-tempo basketball and that's the way I was taught to play. They have very good and experienced coaches. Also New York City is a great place. Madison Square Garden is the biggest stage."
While ECC coach Alex Nwora would have liked Achiuwa to stay closer to Western New York, he understand's the young forward's desire to differentiate himself among the country's best players. St. John's, ranked 18th, finished 21-12 after losing to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"He doesn't want to be a big fish in a small pond," Nwora said. "He wants to be a big fish with the other big fish and then dog it out to find a way to stand out."
Achiuwa has found ways to stand out in his 18 months in Buffalo. As a freshman, he averaged 13.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, leading ECC to a 27-2 record and earning NJCAA third team All-America honors.
This year, he ranked ninth in the country in scoring (22.3 ppg), 10th in rebounding (11.7) and 17th in blocks (2.2), was the Region III Player of the Year, a first team All-America and he paced ECC to a fourth-place finish in the national tournament.
"Gift is a talented frontline player who possesses tremendous size, strength, speed and skill. He is an ideal fit for our baseline-to-baseline attacking style of play," said St. John's coach Steve Lavin in a news release. "The maturity Gift gained from two years of junior college basketball with a combined 55-6 record will make him a nice complement to what will be the youngest roster in the country next season. He is fundamentally sound."
Achiuwa credits Nwora and assistant coach Lazare Adingono with helping him improve his game.
"I liked the work. I like to work really hard," Achiuwa said. "Coach pushes you really hard all the time. ... You go home after practice and think about it and understand this man is trying to make you better, not just as a basketball player but as a man. He's trying to make you a better person.
"I look back on my decision coming over here and I'm very, very happy I made that decision. Actually, it wasn't that hard because I know here I would have so many opportunities."
"He put in a lot of work in the offseason and got his body where it is now. He has a pro body," Nwora said. "I think he outworked everybody. That's one thing with him — he's going to be a workhorse. They're going to really value his work ethic. Win or lose, he's going to stand out.
"He wants to be the first on the court. He wants to be the fastest. As big as he is, he wins most of our sprints in practice. A guy his size, he can defend one through five. Off the court, he's a great kid and he's very, very religious. He knows the line not to cross."
The religious affiliation of St. John's, a Catholic school in the Vincentian tradition, was one of the selling points for Achiuwa.
"I told my parents about my decision and they were really happy for me and St. John's is a religious school, it's a Catholic school, and my parents liked that I decided to go there," Achiuwa said. "That's really important to me."
Coach Alex Nwora is not only the men’s basketball coach at Erie Community College, he is also head coach for men’s basketball in Cape Verde, Africa. On February 15th, he will coach the game at Erie CC in his bare feet to raise awareness and donations for Samaritan’s Feet.
Coach Nwora recently traveled to Cape Verde for a basketball camp. He also provided hundreds of children and young adults with shoes and t-shirts from Samaritan’s Feet. We asked Coach Nwora to share with our readers how he got involved with helping the underprivileged in Cape Verde, and his relationship with Samaritan’s Feet.
The camp in Cape Verde was called the “Elite Basketball Camp”. The camp was primarily sponsored by Cape Verde basketball Federation and a non-profit organization called Global Sports Advantage (globalsportsadvantage.org) that my wife and I founded in 2009. The purpose of this foundation was to give back to underprivileged children worldwide, helping them to understand the importance of athletics as a means to acquire education. To this end, Global Sports Advantage has held camps in Nigeria, the US, and Cape Verde – to name a few. These camps are free of charge to children between the ages of 5 and 25.
The camp in Cape Verde came about in part because of my relationship with the National Basketball Federation for the country. As the Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Cape Verde, I have had numerous opportunities to travel to the country and see, first hand, the needs of the children. To promote athletics and education, Global Sports Advantage arranged (with the help of the Cape Verde National Basketball Federation) to host this camp/clinic event over the holiday break. Initially, the camps were scheduled to occur on three islands in Cape Verde, but scheduling issues and holiday travel caused us to focus the camps on two islands.
Once the camps/clinics were in the planning stages, I had the opportunity to meet Manny and learn of Samaritan’s Feet. It seemed to be a natural fit to pair the two non-profit organizations for the benefit of the Cape Verde campers. Samaritan’s Feet generously donated 500 sneakers and t-shirts to be given out at the camps and orphanages.
The camps ran in two cities on two separate islands. The first camp was in Praia – the capital city of Cape Verde, and ran from December 20-23. This was the larger of the 2 camps, hosting 150+ children, all from in and around the city. Many of the children came to the camp with no shoes at all or only simple flip-flops. They had never even owned a pair of sneakers before, and they were truly grateful. They also enjoyed the t-shirts, many indicating that they felt “American”.
The second camp ran in Mandela from December 27-30, and was comprised of children from the more rural island of San Vincent. Unbelievably, this group of campers (approximately 100) was even more impoverished than the first group. All were thrilled to receive t-shirts and shoes courtesy of Samaritan’s Feet. The entire experience of the camp was well received by all the campers and families.
Unfortunately due to shipping problems, not all the shoes that was donated by Samaritan’s Feet made it to the island in time for the camps. These shoes will be shipped and distributed to the children in orphanages in February by the Cape Verde Basketball Federation. We are also anticipating another series of camps in the summer, when Global Sports Advantage can complete shoe distributions with a representative from Samaritan’s Feet (hopefully).
Overall, the camps were a great success in terms of the experience and donations. Volunteers who travelled from the US for Global Sports Advantage were myself (Alex Nwora), Lazare Adingono, Alison Slein (photographer), Amy Nwora, Jordan Nwora, Ronni Nwora and Byron Brown Jr.. We were assisted with arrangements and running of the camps by the Cape Verde National Basketball Federation.
The 2009 Global Sports Advantage Camp in Port Harcourt was a wonderful success!
Global Sports Advantage will launch its
Student-Athlete Educational Empowerment Program (SAEEP)
Global Sports Advantage believes in the power of athletics as a tool to assist in acquiring a higher education. With this in mind, the organization is constantly seeking ways to help underprivileged athletes pursue their academic dreams at both foreign and local institutions of higher learning.
Beginning fall 2009, Global Sports Advantage will launch its Student-Athlete Educational Empowerment Program (SAEEP). This program is designed to help student athletes become familiar with higher education programs, including: requirements for admission, immigration, and financial aid responsibilities. The program is aimed at creating a seamless transition from the gymnasium, to the classroom.
As part of the SAEEP, Global Sports Advantage encourages government and corporate agencies to assist in fulfilling the dreams of student athletes. As part of a community outreach plan, these agencies are able to offer financial support to student athletes for the purposes of education. If each agency would offer financial support to an athlete from their region, the outreach would have far reaching positive outcomes, for both the athletes and the agencies involved. The athletes would gain an education that could be utilized in the region, and the corporate entities would establish themselves as being responsible community supporters.
In an attempt to actualize this initiative, Royal Hoopers Basketball Club of Port Harcourt, in conjunction with Global Sports Advantage, will be organizing a fund raiser to be held during the 2009 Royal Hoopers/Global Sports Advantage Elite Basketball Camp in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Details regarding this event will be posted as they become available.
As always, thank you for your continued support.
If you would like more information about Global Sports Advantage, contact Coach Alex Nwora at 716-479-6489