Naas basketball star and former student at the local CBS School, Clinton Efinda, is presently making great strides playing high school basketball in Long Island, New York.
Following a move from Ireland to pursue his hoop dreams Stateside, Efinda reflects on a big year away from home.
The under 16 Ireland International admitted that Gaelic Football was his first sporting love.
“GAA was my first sport, playing it since I was five and basketball on the side. Growing up playing GAA and going to a school like Naas CBS, that’s all we knew.”
Comparing his new school to CBS, Clinton described it as “definitely completely different” to the Leinster Football Champions school.
“We had a solid programme for basketball in CBS, but it was different when my older brother went to the school, they were getting to All-Ireland basketball finals.”
The move to the Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Long Island was difficult but convincing his mother to agree to it turned out to be the real challenge.
“My mother got a call from Rob White from the Dublin Lions who told her that Lawrence Woodmere had offered a scholarship. After the two weeks of convincing my mother, we got ready to come over to New York and that’s how the process started.
“ In Lawrence Woodmere Academy, basketball is the main focus and I love that a lot. The intensity was something I had to get used to at first. I really started to see improvement towards the end of the season and finished the season as our top player.
“Our play-off run was cut short due to the pandemic. We ended up going 19-4 (Wins-Losses) with 14 straight undefeated games. We were coming off the state championship win the year before and people didn’t see us doing well.
“Also, because we lost our two best players including Aidan”.
Aidan Harris Igiehon from Lucan, Dublin, is another Irish man who attended Lawrence Woodmere and is now an NBA prospect and a mentor for Efinda who is adjusting to life in the US.
Igiehon and Efinda are two athletes representing some of the best their country has to offer in basketball.
However, representing his country is not something new for Efinda having played in the under 16 European Basketball Championship in Montenegro in 2019, finishing 16th in the tournament beating Georgia and Cyprus.
“Representing your country is a different type of feeling, I’m getting goosebumps thinking about that game against the Netherlands and something I definitely want to do again. An experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The Ireland team’s game versus second overall finishers, the Netherlands, ultimately ended in disappointment. Ireland took control with a 15-point lead at one stage but ultimately fell short. Efinda finished with 14 points from 20 minutes of play in what was a high-tempo battle between the two nations.
The 6’5” guard is still growing at 16 and sets his sights on playing Division 1 Basketball in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“Division 1 College Basketball is definitely the next step for me, I’m feeling athletic and I’m feeling faster now.”