By Albert Akota
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has advised stakeholders to focus more on the positives being recorded in the sport rather than expending unnecessary energy on the few challenges encountered by the AFROCAN team due to lack of funds.
The board said due to the peculiarity of sports budgeting and how funds are released, the only option was to travel by road to enable Nigeria to participate in the inaugural edition of the event.
Reacting to the recent social media campaign, NBBF President, Engr. Musa Kida said travelling by road within the same geographical location is not a strange thing for any professional sportsman.
“We all did it when we played. Mali is not a very far distance by road. Some officials (NBBF Board Members) themselves have done it in the past when players were flying to Cote d’Ivoire for the last window of the World Cup qualifiers.”
Kida said that the road trip was a reflection of the financial state of the federation considering when FIBA Africa announced the introduction of the championship.
“For us, it is not an issue per se, it is a way of calibrating to the means that we have right now and making sure that the home based players were properly represented in Mali for the AFROCAN.
Even if there was a professional that was taken for AFROCAN, he would have gone by road because that was what we could afford at the time to ensure our players participated.”
In his own reaction, the International Representative on the NBBF board, Col Sam Ahmedu (rtd) said the report of players being stranded at the Niger border was an attempt to confuse Nigerians who were already dissatisfied with the team’s performance in Mali where they lost all their four games.
“No one was stranded at the Nigerian border. The team got to the border late and by then the immigration service had already closed for the day.”
Ahmedu said before the trip, players were properly briefed about the arrangements put in place by the NBBF and they all agreed that donning the National colours was far more important.
He stressed that with Nigeria participating in 4 major international events (U16 Boys in Cape Verde, AFROCAN, AfroBasket Women in Senegal and FIBA World Cup Men in China) within a short period, there was need to think outside the box.
He reckoned that some of the players on this trip were in Australia for the Commonwealth Games and in Cote d’Ivoire under the same leadership and they can testify to the importance the federation placed on their welfare.