End-of-bench player finds role with Bulldogs
Mujeeb Omar has come a long way with the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs basketball program.
“I have used a lot of superlatives to talk about my players but I think I can describe him as the most resilient player that I have ever coached,” Churchill head coach Martin Cook said Thursday at Notre Dame, moments after his team defeated the Saint Michael Mustangs 73-39 in the championship quarter-finals of the 66th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
“The reason why I say that is because he was an end-of-the-bench player for about three years for this team. He was a great teammate, he never complained and he put in the work every day.”
That work paid off.
“This year he came in and he had obviously improved and has put himself in a spot where he is often a starter on this team,” Cook said. “He is a very valuable player as a shooter and he’s also a support point guard if you will.”
Omar is the kind of player coaches and teammates like.
“He was sitting so far down I could barely see him at the end of the bench for three years,” Cook said. “He is an easy player to cheer for, for sure.”
The 17-year-old, who only plays school basketball, never became discouraged with his playing time with the Bulldogs.
“I kept playing and getting better and now I am getting some minutes,” the 5-foot-8 guard said.
He worked hard for his opportunity.
“I went to the gym in the summer with my friends and I played a lot with Mazen and Brady.”
The Grade 12 student was going to the YMCA five or six times a week.
“I just wanted a chance to play and show that I could play on this team.”
That being said, he didn’t take anything for granted at the start of this season.
“I knew I had improved but I didn’t know how many minutes I would be seeing. I started the season playing well and I earned myself some minutes.”
He is loving being a part of the team’s rotation instead of an afterthought at the end of the bench.
“It is exciting and cool and I have never had that feeling.”
He is not done yet in his desire to get better.
“I want to get faster, put on some muscle and not get knocked around because I am smaller than everyone else.”
He is enjoying his first chance to play in the Tribune tourney.
“I have seen people playing in it but I have never played in it. It is exciting to be in it and I am happy to be playing.”
Cook was happy with his team’s performance against the Mustangs.
“We have had a few down games lately where I didn’t think our effort was where it needed to be. The last couple of games we have really refocused on the little parts of the game: the rebounding, defence and hustle,” he said. “I thought that game we did a really good job of that.
Saint Michael head coach Keith Bomberry likes the Trib tournament because of the competition his team gets and Churchill gave him just that.
“We certainly got it today That is a special group. Numbers 1 and 22 (Mazen Yagubi and Brady Pupek) are a two-headed monster but they are more than just that. Their team played very well,” he said. “They have a nice complimentary group, their guys can shoot from anywhere and everywhere but they play sound basketball. I was really impressed with them.”
It’s a game that will aid the Mustangs in their development.
“It helps our team realize that we can strive to be better,” Bomberry said. “If we do simple things like boxing out, closing out a little better and working on our footwork, we can be better against teams in our division.”
Bulldogs 73 Mustangs 39
Mountainview Building Group Players of the Game: Churchill’s Mazen Yagubi and Saint Michael’s Luka Dermott.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Yagubi 23; Brady Pupek 16; Mujeeb Omar 6; Will McAlpine 6; Bennett Pisek 5; Matteo Scaglione 5; Victor Obansure 4; Jaxon Beaman 3; Sawyer Neufeld 3; and, Daniel Nunez Colome 2;
For the Saint Michael Mustangs: Brandon Bell 11; Dermott 9; Jalen Heaten 6; Max Marinas 5; Arwin Chima 4; Devon Devost 2; and, Orlando Gardner 2
LYNX 59 BLUE BEARS 34
Daniel Charest netted 29 points to power the Saint-Jean-de-Brefeuf Lynx to a 59-34 victory over the Port Colborne Blue Bears Thursday in consolation quarter-final action in the 66th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament at Brebeuf.
Also scoring for the Lynx were Brebeuf player of the game Mac Toge 9; Juan Jose Arbelaez 5; Brydon Tshowa-M’Baya 4; Arthur Bélanger 3; Adian Astudillo 2; Isaak Martinez-Richer 2; Dawson Battersby 2; Piercarlo Arghittu 2; and, Hans Kissmann 1.
Scoring for Port Colborne were: Caleb Grover 16; Kolby Kulak 8; Alex McNay 5; Dylan Gagnon 3; and, Cole Istok 2.
Kulak was Port’s player of the game.