After the hearty games of the MILO Basketball Championship, we decided to take some words from the coaches of our finalist and share some advice from the true champions of the competition.

Lesson 1: Practice Practice Practice

For Emmanuel Biodun, coach of the Father O'Connell Science College and former player in the MILO championship tournament;

“We trained six hours, from 6am to 9am, came back again around 3pm to 6pm. Most of these things, we did in training. We even trained on public holidays.”

Anyone that excels in their field of practice as an undisputed master will give you the same answer when you ask them what is the secret.

Practice, practice, practice

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant even at the top of his game confessed to training harder than everyone on team. According to him, his goal at practice was to always arrive first and leave last. If there is something you want to get better at, yes, study all you can on be subject; but do not forget -- Practice, Practice, Practice

Lesson 2: Be ready for opportunity

More from Emmanuel Biodun

“We had basically all the rebounds, and a team that picks rebound usually wins the game, we picked 80% of the rebounds both offensively and defensively and that helped us.”

The most successful people will tell you that luck is what happens when opportunity meets readiness. In football, there have been countless last minute goals scored from counter attacks that left defenses weak.

These goals happen because strikers have been ready to make the sprint long before the opportunity for the counter attack presents itself. In whatever endeavor you find yourself, it is important to always be ready for your big break.

The world is filled with artists and businessmen who have made contacts at social gathering that they managed to turn to opportunities, not because they were lucky, but because they were ready.

Lesson 3: Stay focused, especially when the tide is high

According to the coach of the Adamawa boys Dickson Tinism Monday.

“I believe we were not vigilant enough. We were doing most of the work, playing better, but our opponents were taking the ball to the basket, my boys lost focus.”

Calm winds have never made fine sailors. When you aim to be the best, you have to face the test. Tests will come. First in your determination to persist through the pain of practice, then again, to check your patience when you are ready and looking out for the right opportunity. But lastly, when you are finally on your way, the road will test you.

Sometimes, the difference between the winner and the second place lies in a loss of focus when the stakes are highest. Just like a pilot will need to be most alert when the turbulent is highest, we must remain strong and focused when the challenge is toughest.

Lesson 4: Celebrate the small victories

This is the second consecutive loss at the finals of the MILO Basketball Championship for Yejide Girls Grammar School, but coach Yemi Abiodun believes it is a sign of progress.

“It shows we are still very good because most of the players we had last year are now past the age limit,” Abiodun told Pulse Sports.

“These are new girls and we have managed to get to the final again, I’m very pleased.”

Artist and business mogul Sean Carter (Jay-Z) once sang:

“Even in defeat there is a valuable lesson learned so it evens it out for me.”

Learning how to see the climb to the top as a process that should be celebrated all the way instead of waiting till the end is one way to keep yourself motivated. Take time to look back at how far you have come and pat yourself on the back now and again.

Putting too much pressure on yourself can make you blind to what you are already doing and cause you to burn out. You are already on your way, that is what matters.

Keep going:

Practice, practice, practice

Stay ready

Don’t lose focus

And be kind to yourself.

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