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Valencia girls basketball: Anumbas’ game

Four Anumbas have played in Valencia High’s basketball programs

Posted: January 28, 2010 10:47 p.m.
Updated: January 29, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Valencia varsity basketball player Faith Anumba, left, and younger sister Jennifer, a junior varsity player, have helped keep the family’s name alive at the high school. Valencia varsity basketball player Faith Anumba, left, and younger sister Jennifer, a junior varsity player, have helped keep the family’s name alive at the high school.
Valencia varsity basketball player Faith Anumba, left, and younger sister Jennifer, a junior varsity player, have helped keep the family’s name alive at the high school.

Ralph Anumba was the first in his family to pick up a basketball and play at Valencia. Freshman Jennifer Anumba is the latest Viking from the Anumba bunch, but maybe not the last.

Junior Faith Anumba starts on the varsity team, following the family line started by Ralph, who played in 2006 and 2007, and continued by Emmanuel, who played from 2007 to 2009.

The Anumbas didn’t have generations of basketball history in their family — not by a long shot.

In fact, Ralph, Emmanuel, Faith and Jennifer learned soccer first.

And now they’ve created a tradition of their own on the hardwood.

It all started when the family came over from Nigeria in November of 1995.

A lucky turn in the visa lottery gave family patriarch Raphael Anumba the opportunity to bring the Anumbas to the United States.

When Ralph, who is the oldest at 20 and currently a student at Cal State Fullerton, picked up interest in the orange ball after the move, his father began to hit the books and ask about the game.

Raphael was a soccer player and pole vaulter back home, but he didn’t know much about hoops.

“I started learning the rules of basketball when I came over here,” Raphael says. “When they were small, I had to learn it to teach them and help them out as much as I could.”

The family members have helped each other learn the game, and it has brought them closer together.

Faith remembers going to her older brothers’ games and watching from the stands. She says she learned a lot from watching them, and they’re always trying to give her tips to help her game.

Faith says Emmanuel and Ralph get on her like coaches sometimes, but it’s not really about sibling rivalry. They’re just always encouraging her and giving her new ways to improve.

“They actually help me out a lot,” Faith says. “They want me to do better than they did, so they’re always helping me and pushing me to come out and practice with them.”

Emmanuel says his sisters aren’t always that receptive.

“Because it’s a brother-sister relationship, you sometimes get that attitude where it’s like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but occasionally, they’ll listen,” Emmanuel says with a laugh.

He was able to provide a brief scouting report on Faith and Jennifer.

“My sister Faith is just an all-around player, but I want her to work on her dribble more,” Emmanuel says.

He says Jennifer has a good skill set too, but added she must work harder in practice than she does on chores.

“Everyone else says she’s fast and hustles on the court. I know she’s a hard worker, but I don’t see it around the house,” he says with a laugh.

Jennifer started the season on varsity and moved to JV a week before Foothill League play began to give her a chance at more playing time.

Jennifer says she played together with her sister before on traveling teams and in community leagues, but she felt a little more pressure with the Vikings.

“It was a little nerve-wracking actually, because (Faith) is better than me,” Jennifer says of her time on varsity. “I want to be like her and be as good as she is.”

Senior Brittany Jackson, who played with Faith and Jennifer while they were together on varsity, says it was great to have the pair on the same squad.

“(The team) gets really nervous before games, and they help bring us down,” Jackson says. “They have all these inside jokes between them so we’ll look over and they’ll be laughing and we’ll all ask, ‘What’s so funny?’”

And each Anumba seems to have benefitted by the brother or sister before them, and gotten better as a result.

According to coaches, Jennifer could be the best yet by the time she’s done.

Valencia girls head coach Jerry Mike says if Valencia makes the playoffs, Jennifer will be back on the same team as Faith by the end of the season.

“She’s a little farther along than Faith was as a freshman,” Mike says. “She’s going to be quite a player.”

That could spell trouble for the rest of the league.

After all, Faith is already a force for the Vikings, who are tied with two other teams at 4-1 for first place in the Foothill League.

Faith averages 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Valencia boys co-head coach Greg Hayes has seen the four Anumbas on the court and in the halls at Valencia.

He says they all have different playing styles, but have been valuable contributors at the school because of their attitude and work ethic.

Emmanuel, who’s now a student at Arizona State, was invited to coach at the school’s basketball camp over winter break, where Hayes met the youngest Anumba, a fifth-grader named George.

“(George) could be the best one yet,” Hayes says. “They have different personalities and they are all very tough on themselves, but they are very different players.”



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