Connect with us

Boys Basketball

Delco Boys Basketball Notebook: Nwobodo bros helped each other, Delco Christian improve

Delco Christian boys basketball players Ebuka, left, and Obinna Nwobodo.

NEWTOWN TWP. — Any summer afternoon while they were growing up, you knew where to find Obinna and Ebuka Nwobodo.

The sound of the basketball thudding off concrete would be the giveaway, studded with the occasional good-natured trash talk. For hours, from noon until it was too dark to see, at the basket nailed to the overhang behind their Northeast Philadelphia home, the two brothers would be shooting.

On one side was Ebuka, now a 6-1 freshman guard/forward for Delco Christian. On the other was Obinna, a 6-4 junior center. Together they are a study in contrasts, their rough edges helping polish each other’s games. Against the bigger Obinna, Ebuka learned how to move faster and smarter with the ball. Against the speedier Ebuka, Obinna focused on devising the most efficient path to the rim.

All those hours on the unforgiving concrete – “if you fall, there’s going to be blood,” Obinna said – have put them in a remarkable situation. Both contributed from the start of their careers at DC and are enjoying their first season playing together for the Knights.

“It’s so exciting,” Obinna said Tuesday. “He can be really, really great, way better than I can ever be. So for me, I have to be there to mentor him throughout the whole way.”

Neither freshmen nor sets of brothers is that rare at DC, where numbers mandate such oddities. Still, the pair stands out. Obinna played 22 games as a freshman, averaging 2.6 points per game. He upped it to 6.4 ppg as a sophomore for a team that won 17 games and made the PIAA Class A tournament.

This season, Obinna is one of the top offensive threats for DC at 11.6 ppg. And he’s doing it while adding a mentorship component, primarily to the freshman Ebuka, who is averaging 1.4 ppg and has played in all 20 games. Who better to communicate the challenge of contributing as a rookie?

“I just talk to my brother and not only him but all the underclassmen … just to get their mindset ready for varsity,” Obinna said. “Coming into the season, we already knew that we needed those young guys, so I just told them to be physically ready, be mentally ready because it can get stressful, it can get hard and I know the weight of it since I was in that position less than two years ago. I just tell them to always stay ready, always be focused and when an opportunity’s there, you’ve got to take it.”

“He tells me it’s a bit different,” Ebuka said. “It’s faster, you’ve got to play harder, if you don’t play smart, it’s going to be a turnover.”

Their parents hail from Nigeria, coming to the States in college, where their mom ran track. But Obinna gravitated toward basketball, his introduction coming in the Police Athletic League.

“I started playing there when I was really, really young, and I fell in love with the game,” Obinna said. “I wasn’t always good, but I kept working, I kept praying and God’s gotten me to this point, so all I can do is thank him. But the love of basketball dripped down to (Ebuka) and he’s in love with the game.”

“It’s just something I wanted to do since I was little,” Ebuka said. “I never looked at soccer or anything else. I always looked at basketball.”

The love blossomed behind their home in the Northeast and through seven years commuting to DC. Even as they went their separate positional ways, with Obinna’s height preordaining him for the lane and Ebuka’s speed favoring the perimeter, one-on-one would be the test of what they’d learned.

Obinna is adamant that he’s never lost to Ebuka. Both readily admit that Obinna’s favored strategy is to give Ebuka space to shoot, a weakness in his game he’s trying to shore up. But Obinna is equally passionate about making sure his brother can play all five positions to reach his potential, and the backyard has been their classroom.

“He wants me to do my best,” Ebuka said. “I make mistakes a lot. He wants me to fix those because he knows I can do better.”

• • •

The Playoff Picture >> Ridley has much to play for in Thursday’s regular-season finale against Lower Merion. The Green Raiders (12-8) enter 25th in District 1 Class 6A, outside the 24-team field. They need a win over the Aces (19-2) to hope to vault No. 24 North Penn (9-12) and get into the playoffs. North Penn must deal with 19-2 Pennridge.

Upper Darby (8-12) sits further afield in 26th place with a meeting against Conestoga (13-8) looming Thursday.

More securely in the field is Haverford (12-8), which beat Ridley Tuesday and sits 20th. Garnet Valley (15th, 13-8) and Chester (sixth, 16-4) are in for 6A, the Clippers in line for a first-round bye.

Marple Newtown has given itself a shot to barge into the Class 5A field. The Tigers (8-13) have won four straight to lodge themselves in 18th place for the 16-team field, the latest a 59-38 victory at Radnor.

If Marple can beat Harriton (17th, 8-13) and get help with No. 16 Bishop Shanahan losing to Henderson Thursday, they could sneak in. Shanahan, however, beat Henderson by 31 in their first meeting. Schedule points get Shanahan (5-16) in despite the unsightly record because of the glut of 6A teams in the Ches-Mont National, plus W.C. East, the presumptive 5A top seed.

Penncrest (third, 16-5), Sun Valley (fourth, 15-5) and Penn Wood (eighth, 13-8) are in position to host games, with No. 9 Academy Park (15-6) likely to book an all-Del Val rematch in the first round. Radnor (10-11, 14th) should probably get in regardless of its result Thursday against Strath Haven.

Glen Mills (6-15) is anchored into the fourth spot in Class 4A, meaning a trip to top-seeded Lower Moreland (17-3). Delco Christian (12-9) should get a home game as the second seed in Class 2A. And it appears that Chester Charter School for the Arts (11-10) will have to wait for its first playoff berth, sitting fifth for the four-team Class A field. Christian Academy (9-9) is sixth.

• • •

The Crazy Catholic League >> Let’s try to sum this up briefly. Bonner & Prendergast beat Roman, which beat Neumann-Goretti, which beat Archbishop Ryan, which beat Bishop McDevitt, which beat Carroll, which beat La Salle, which beat Bonner & Prendergast. That loop-the-loop exemplifies the chaotic field that the postseason must sort out.

With two or three games left, Roman has one loss. McDevitt (in its best season since the late 1980s), Bonner & Prendie and La Salle have two each. Nine teams sport a record of 7-5 or better, and only 10 make the tournament out of 15 squads. That sets up a playoff field that could be sheer lunacy. Semifinals are at the Palestra Feb. 20 with the final Feb. 25. Heck, the quarterfinals at campus sites Feb. 15 won’t be any slouch, either.

Comments

comments

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

thirteen + 13 =

Recent News

More in Boys Basketball