Basketball pundits X-ray D’Tigers chances at Olympics

Aug 3 2016 - 9:49pm
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Nigeria is Africa's Basketball champions

Nigeria is Africa’s Basketball champions

Some basketball enthusiasts on Wednesday called on the federation to take preparations of national teams for international assignments serious.

They made the call against the backdrop of Nigeria’s senior national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers preparations toward 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio which they described as not good enough for the team’s success.

The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) had engaged the current Africa Champions in international friendly matches since July to prepare them for the Olympics which dunks off Aug. 5.

Nigeria, ranked 25 in the world, will play in Group B alongside Lithuania, Argentina, Croatia, Spain and Brazil, and is currently having her second run in the Olympics.

On Aug. 1, the U.S men’s national basketball team in Houston engaged Nigeria to round off their pre-Olympics showcase with a 110-66 win over Nigeria.

The Americans had no trouble sweeping through their other four-game exhibition schedule and enter Rio looking like the heavy favourites to take the gold.

However, D’Tigers loss to the U.S. team was predictable when comparing the quality of players paraded by both countries and going by their first ever meet in London 2012 Olympics.

The Nigerian team was completely overwhelmed by U.S. Dream Team, known for their supremacy in the game.

At the end of regulation time, the scoreboard glowed USA: 156 Nigeria: 73.

Nigeria ended the 2012 Olympics in 10th position recording one victory out of four matches in their group game encounter.

In the hope of performing credibly well at the 2016 Games, Nigeria also engaged Argentina, another powerhouse from South America.

The team won one and lost two in the matches to Argentina.

Similarly, Nigeria’s successful stint will come at the hands of China whom they beat on three occasions, 76-65, 79-71 and 80-76 when they met at the Stankovic Cup in China in July.

Sports enthusiasts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that though the D’Tigers might not reach the podium in Rio, it has the capacity to surpass the 2012 record.

Head Coach, First Bank of Lagos Basketball Club, Peter Ahmedu, said the team had the capacity to withstand others in their group due to the level of exposure of the players.

“It is a fact that we have a solid team that can do well at the Olympics, but perhaps not reaching the podium.

“Where there are teams like Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Lithuania, who are powerhouses in basketball, it is going to be very tough.

“However, it is a plus to the national team and the federation that we are making a back to back participation having been part of the 2012 basketball event in London Games.

“The William Voigt-led team have yet to develop to that level, it will take a lot of hard work and good preparation to achieve the podium,’’ Ahmedu said.

Chris Nomigo, Head Coach, Lagos Warriors on his part, said that he would be surprised if we get past the group stage at the Olympics.

He added that the national team did not possess the quality to compete.

“We have yet to have the calibre of players that make things happen at the Olympics, and our level of preparation has been very shabby so far.

“It takes a lot to do well when you compare the top class players in the world coming to represent their country with teams in Africa.

“Recently we heard that Al’Farouq Aminu, the Portland Trail Blazers, U.S.-based NBA team is not joining the rest of his teammates because we cannot afford to pay his insurance fee.

“This is exactly what it takes to have big players fly the national team flag, assuming he was with the team he would definitely add a lot of value to the team,’’ Nomigo said.

But Abimbola Faniran, a former Lagos State Basketball Technical Adviser, said that Nigeria ranked 25 in the world could spring surprises and that we should not write off the team.

“We have a good team and majority of them were part of the all conquering 2015 African Nations Cup in Tunisia where no one gave the team a chance.

“Although the team is in a tough group, where the likes of Spain, Croatia, Argentina, Brazil and Lithuania are in the elite ranked teams, but hopefully we could do something.

“We may not reach the podium in this edition but with a back to back record of reaching the Olympics the future is indeed bright for the sport,’’ Faniran said.

He added that more structured programmes at the grassroots and good organisation of the DStv Basketball Men’s League could help change our status at the international scene. (NAN)

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