Solace in the sport of basketball

by Curtis J Phillips

Keyano Huskies basketball players Henry (right) and Stanley (left) Maduabueke have had a long journey from Lagos, Nigeria to Fort McMurray Alberta

Keyano Huskies basketball players Henry (right) and Stanley (left) Maduabueke have had a long journey from Lagos, Nigeria to Fort McMurray Alberta

When twins Henry and Stanley Maduabueke were only 16 years old, tragedy struck with the death of their father Chimdi back in their hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. Not really a hometown mind you, but a major world metropolis with a population of more than seven million people.
It is easy to get lost in such masses where sorrow may not be seen. For the lanky twins, solace was found in the sport of basketball.
“For a while I was down but basketball helped me as it was a way for me to get away from thinking about or dwelling on that kind of situation,” said Stanley, now a member of the Keyano Huskies men’s basketball team.
“At the time we were playing for an academy and we were down at first but basketball was a place we could go to where we felt that we were on another planet and we would not fill depressed,” replied Henry, who like his brother, is a first-year student/athlete with the Huskies and like is brother, a lofty 6-foot-5.
It was September 2012 that the pair left Nigeria to attend Holy Cross Regional High School in Surrey, British Columbia as exchange students. Once again basketball was a comfort in this strange new country.
“It was completely different,” recalls Stanley, who is enrolled in, as is Henry, Business Administration. “First of all, back home it is really hot, sometimes getting up to 40. Coming here it was cold, standing in the airport terminal when we first arrived I was shivering.
“The food was different too. Everything tasted different. I never liked cheese and cheese was on everything from pizza to burgers.”
The Maduabueke’s would be part of consecutive basketball teams that qualified for high school provincials, losing out in the semi-final in their Grade 11 year and in the championship game in Grade 12. With raw athletic talent and still learning the fundamentals of the sport, they were not starters. Not starters? Yet they make a college basketball team in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference?
“I guess it is God,” said Stanley, with a smile. “(Huskies men’s basketball head coach David Petroziello) came to one of our games and we had a good game and from there he organized a tryout for the two of us. He was interested when he saw what we could do on the court.”
Henry adds: “Obviously it was a 2-for-1 deal, so here we are.”
The two brothers come off the bench to average around 13 minutes a game with their main thrust defence and rebounding. The Huskies are hosting the 2015 ACAC Men’s Basketball Championships March 5-7 at the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre with themselves and the Concordia Thunder, Lakeland Rustlers, Lethbridge Kodiaks, Medicine Hat Rattlers, NAIT Ooks, Olds Broncos and Red Deer Kings competing.
Fort McMurray talent on some of the visiting teams include Nathan Obrigewitsch on the Ooks and Jacob Simmons on the Broncos. Also in the ACAC, Westwood Community High School graduate Shubham Patel recently won the ACAC men’s singles badminton consolation final while wearing the colours of the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in Edmonton.
Griffins’ coach Naeem Haque said of Patel, who is a first year student/athlete enrolled in Chemistry, “We have been working hard with him. He had the footwork and talent, he just needs more practice.”
Another local athlete performing well in post-secondary is Sydney Lewko also attending MacEwan where she is part of women’s curling team.
Catch you on the rebound.