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Haruna: I want to play like Bulls’ Derrick Rose

Are you from a basketball playing family?Not really. I’m from the family of Mr. & Mrs. Haruna. My mum and father are late. We are…

Are you from a basketball playing family?
Not really. I’m from the family of Mr. & Mrs. Haruna. My mum and father are late. We are nine children in my family but I’m the only one playing basketball.
Why did you choose to play basketball?
Basketball is a game that when I’m playing, I find joy in it. I feel like I’m destined to play basketball and that is why I’m good at playing it. When someone gets me angry from home and I get to the basketball court, I’m always ending up happy.
How many tournaments have you attended so far?
I have participated in two competitions so far, they are ‘Mark D Ball’ basketball competition and Milo basketball championship.
How did you get into the Milo basketball competition?
The Milo basketball competition started from the inter-local government stage. My school won the local government, won the zone before going to the Conference in Akure, Ondo State.
You faced some challenges in Akure, what exactly happened?
Most of my team mates were screened out. We were twelve in the team but six were disqualified in Akure. So, we had to play with only six players. We had only one substitute.
How were you able to forge ahead to win despite the shortage of manpower?
We actually appealed to the organisers to allow us add new players after winning the conference in Akure but they refused. So, we trained well for over three months before the final round in Lagos State. We were very good and determined. We didn’t allow our problem to get the best of us. We were focused and with teamwork, we were able to excel.
What was it like in Lagos, playing with only one player on the bench against the best teams?
It was tough. We played different teams from different states and they were all good. But we were able to beat them to win the championship.
You won the Most Valuable Player of the competition, how did you achieve that feat?
I was not actually out to win the Most Valuable Player at the competition. My main aim at the competition was to make my team win. I contributed to the success of my team and I was not selfish in the games.
You are a point guard but you ended the championship as the ‘big man’, why?
Yes, at the zonal stage, I was playing as a point guard but on reaching Akure where they screened our big men out, I was made to play as the big man.
How did you cope, judging by your stature?
Despite my disadvantaged height, I was controlling my team. I think that was what gave me the MVP.
What stood you out apart from your control over the game?
I don’t have the statistics but in most of the games we played in Lagos, I had most of the blocks, assists and rebounds.
You were picked for a camp as one of the best 50 players of the competition, what did you gain from the camp?
It was a three-day camp in Lagos. Two players were selected from each team for the camp. I learnt a lot in the camp. Apart from others, I know I have improved in my passes after the camp. I make more accurate passes now.
Can you now say you are fulfilled after the camp?
There was an All-star game in camp and I made the all-star team. I also made the top ten players in the camp. I’m happy because I didn’t only represent Benue State at the competition, I also represented ‘MARK D Ball’. This is because it was from this clinic that I came up to get to this level that I am now.
What is your target next?
My target is to make the NBA. I don’t only want to play in the NBA, I also want to school in the United States of America. I believe schooling there is my shortcut to the NBA. This is because I’m going to work very hard to achieve my target.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I’m a guard, so I look up to two players in the NBA whom I love to play like. One of them is Derrick Ross in Chicago Bulls. He has the speed and he is quick as a guard. The other person is Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. I want to play like him because he’s aggressive and tough. And as a basketball player, you have to be aggressive and tough.
How is basketball robbing off on your academics?
A dull person cannot play basketball because you have to calculate in the game. Your performance depends on how intelligent you are and the ability to think in a split second. So, basketball can make someone who is dull to become intelligent. As for me, I’m doing well in my academics.
If five years time, where do you want to be?
In five years time, I want to be an NBA player.
What is your special talent in basketball?
One thing I know how to do is to carry my team along. No matter how bad a player is, I can bring the best out of him. I am also very good at creating chances for my team members.
Are you expecting a call up to the national junior teams?
Yes, I would love to play for Nigeria but it is my ability in the court that will earn me a call up. I want to wear that green, white and Green jersey. I believe if I keep on playing well, I will realize my dream.

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