Despite being just 18 years old, Nottingham Wildcats star Praise Egharevba has put together a dominant season for Kenrick Liburd’s side and is hoping to help the fifth seeds for the WBBL Play-offs progress to the next round as they get set to face the Leicester Riders this weekend.
Averaging a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in just 25 minutes, Egharevba has been huge for the new-look Nottingham side this year and she discussed the achievement of making it to the post-season with this squad as well as what they’ll need to do to progress.
“Making the play-offs is an expectation, sure, but this is still really special for us and we’ve worked so hard to get here. We’ve been hustling, doing everything we can to get into this position, and we’ve felt all year like we’re a top-five team so to secure that is great for us and shows what we can do.
“We don’t just want to get here, though – we want to win games, and that starts on Sunday against the Riders. If we’re on the same page on the defensive end, follow the scout and stick to what we’ve been working on for so long then we can definitely win and go through.
“We don’t have a problem scoring and so on, but we do have work to do on the defensive end so we have to focus on getting stops and taking pride in that side of the game. We deserve our place here and we have to put in a performance to deserve our place in the semi-finals, but we’re capable of doing it for sure – we’ve just got to stick together and play our best basketball.”
“We push ourselves to the limit all the time.”
Going into the post-season in fabulous form, the Wildcats will certainly be one of the teams to watch as their dynamic roster has been very free-scoring throughout the season and huge individual performances have come from a variety of players across the roster during the regular season.
Egharevba herself has had a fair few monster performances through the year, bagging so many double-doubles and even notching over 20 rebounds in some games, and she was honest in her evaluation of her progression this season.
“Everybody knows I’m a hard worker and whenever I’m on the floor I give absolutely everything I can to win, whether that means scoring points or getting rebounds or whatever – I just want to help my team win. I give everything I can to be as good as I can for this team and to help us do well.
“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve and some of my performances. I am very self-critical and know what I need to do better after every game, but I have surprised myself sometimes in terms of the stats I’ve had, but I believe in myself and my work and just want to be the best I can be for my team.
“As a team, we just push ourselves to the limit all the time and although we’ve had ups and downs, we’ve stayed together and learnt how to win when things are going against us, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of this group so much.”
“They’re such good people and I couldn’t have done this without them.”
A great season on an individual level for Egharevba obviously isn’t over yet as Sunday’s action awaits, so there could be more highlights to come on the court, but she’s secured a major milestone elsewhere as well as she’s verbally committed to continue her basketball career at Oklahoma State University in future.
The teenager spoke of how special the achievement is for her and her family, and how thankful she is for the support she’s had from the Wildcats family, discussing Siobhan Prior in particular after reflecting on the play-off journey last year and the support Prior gave from the stands.
“I’m looking forward to playing in America and I can’t thank everybody at Nottingham enough to put me in this position from Coach Liburd to Nikki to Siobhan (Prior) and everybody there. They’re such good people and I couldn’t have done this without them. Playing in America is going to be very special and I’m excited to see what it means for my career.
“Siobhan has been such a big person in my life and has been there for me with everything since day one, whether it is school, basketball, Germany, whatever – I can always talk to her and she’s been such a good friend, coach and person to ask for advice.
“She feels like part of my family, to be honest, and she’s a very good motivator for me – she knows how to get the best out of me – and I’m so grateful to her for everything she’s done for me.”