SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Emmanuel "Manny" Quezada is dominating African basketball and no one seems to know how to stop him.
On Saturday the 30-year-old shooting guard sparked Petro de Luanda to the crown of 2015 FIBA Africa Champions Cup (ACC) for the first time since 2006 as they beat then defending champions Recreativo do Libolo 89-75 in Luanda, Angola.
For most of the 10-day competition - which brought together teams from all corners of the continent - Quezada did a bit of everything. He shot from long range, dished out assists, played good defense and, more importantly, he stepped up when Petro de Luanda looked against the ropes. That's what he does best, rescuing Petro.
Petro de Luanda entered the Final Phase with a 2-2 mark, looking vulnerable after losing to tournament hosts Primeiro D'Agosto and Moroccan side AS FAR in the Group Phase.
However, Quezada made sure to remind everyone why he was named the MVP of the Finals of the Angolan BIC Basket League in June, in which Petro upset - yet again - Recreativo do Libolo in Game 7.
At the time local media praised Quezada for carrying Petro on his shoulder to the national title. In Wednesday's ACC Quarter-Final the American-Dominican - who once scored 50 points to set Brazil's National Basketball League record for highest individual scoring display in a playoff game while playing for Sao Jose in 2014 - poured in a tournament-high 36 points as the new ACC champions outscored ES Rades 74-49.
Petro kept some of their best for when it mattered most. In the Semi-Finals, Quezada and Co ended D’Agosto's unbeaten run which lasted for the first five games of the competition.
For a player who looked more like a coach on the floor, Quezada was a deserving 2015 ACC Most Valuable Player, such was his impact in the tournament.
The Angolan BIC Basket League tips off next month and with Petro holding three major titles - Angola Super Cup, BIC Basket League and ACC - there is no doubt who the team to beat is. But, certainly the opposition, led by D'Agosto and Libolo, will need to regroup and learn how stop Quezada who is entering his second season with Petro.
I now understand why a Petro de Luanda official told me during AfroBasket 2015 that Quezada was one the club's key players. With such a tough player, any team has a chance to win games and championships.
Well done to Quezada and congratulations to Petro de Luanda.