Abeokuta the Ogun State capital went agog Saturday for the father of Nigerian Basketball, Prince of Egbaland, Lawrence Alabi Adeoye Adelanwa who turned 80 years. Coach Adelanwa a.k.a Alambolo in the Nigerian Basketball family was born on September 5, 1945.
The Basketball main court at Ijeja Stadium, Abeokuta overflowed with the Basketball confraternity from Nigeria except those who were busy preparing to meet China in the FIBA world championship on Sunday, other sporting gurus, families and Egba indigenes who roved the place in Aso Ebi.
The ever smiling Alambolo told me he insisted on having the birthday bash on that pitch, “because I want the world to know I have a very big desire to have an Olympic size Indoor Sports Hall built in Egba from where I came to be known in the world. The Indoor hall we have is not standard. I desire a standard pitch Yomi (my former name), that is my wish. I want international matches played in Egbaland.” Adelanwa spoke with much emotion.
Adelanwa has an hallmark as a lover of grassroots sports development in his earlier years. He had said to the 6th Nestle Milo Basketball championship at the University of Lagos in December 2004 that “Basketball could have been better off in Nigeria if only Principals of Secondary Schools could show more interest in the game, and Games Masters need to learn more about the sports”.
Tall and lanky Coach Alabi Adelanwa whom I met in April 1979 when I was converted into Broadcasting at Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC) from Publishing after two years stint at UI Press is a man who had some novelty contributions into the net game converting some young chaps into the game including the famous Yomi Sangodeyi aka Yomi Basket who was an African Basketball icon who rose with Ogun Rocks then and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Olajuwon was initially a football goalkeeper and later playing Handball in the days Chief Massaba was sponsoring Handball before Adelanwa teamed up with other coaches in Ogun State and Nigeria to make Hakeem a global star.
Alabi Adelanwa who started off with the Nigerian Air Force team as Coach in 1966 was first to play the game with his back to the basket in Nigeria.
An International Coach and former C. E. O. Royal Basketball Academy, Alambolo was inducted to the prestigious Lagos State Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
– Eniola Olatunji.