Nigeria’s male and female national basketball teams, D’Tigers and D’Tigress are in for a very rough ride in the days and months ahead if reports reaching us are anything to hang on.
Both teams have a major schedule of events this year and multiple forces within are allegedly frustrating the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and outside its control.
About a month to the make or break final window of the FIBA 2023 Men’s World Cup Qualifiers in Luanda, Angola, the NBBF is yet to get a firm commitment of availability of funds to begin D’Tigers’ preparation for the event from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Nigeria needs to win all its games in Group E during the last window and hopes other results go its way to stand a chance of picking one of the four tickets left from the continent. Cote D’Ivoire has picked the first ticket already.
Teams in Group E are Angola, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria and Uganda. Cote D’Ivoire is on 14 points, Angola 12 points, Cape Verde 11 points, Nigeria 10 points, Guinea and Uganda are on 8 points each.
Teams in Group F are as follows: Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Senegal, South Sudan, and Tunisia.
Lack of adequate funding explains why D’Tigers have been without their regular head coach in all their outings in Benguela, Angola, in November 2021, July 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda and in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in August 2022.
On these three occasions, three different head coaches and different supporting staffs managed D’Tigers. This has left the team vulnerable, weak and without a unique and consistent playing formation.
The funds sourced for the preparations and participation in the Qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on behalf of the Sports Ministry by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has not been fully refunded.
This development has left a very dip wound in the hearts and minds of some key and committed members of the NBBF who have been sourcing funds for the various international engagements of D’Tigers and D’Tigress in the last five years.
It was only the first window of the FIBA Men’s World Cup Qualifiers in November 2021 in Angola that the Sports Ministry and the Sports Minister handled that members of D’Tigers and their coaching crew were fully paid.
The country’s participation at the Men’s Afrobasket Championship in Kigali, Rwanda and Yaoundé, Cameroon in 2021, which was approved by the Sports Ministry but funded by members of the NBBF board is yet to be settled by the Ministry.
Efforts to get the corporate bodies to support the various national teams as was the case in the past before the 2021 crisis has been met with a very cold shoulder.
These multi national companies have blamed the constant government policy summersault and interference as one of the major reasons behind their lukewarm attitude towards the NBBF and it’s various properties and projects.
Another reason advanced by these corporate organisations is the poor global economic climate.
In November last year, board members of the NBBF practically emptied their pockets to conclude the 2021 Premier League Season with the staging of the highly successful NBBF Premier League Final 8 in Lagos.
The state finals and the six Zonal finals of the NBBF TotalEnergies Division 2 play-offs were successfully staged in Yola, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Jos and Osogbo. The Federation bore the cost as the sponsors promised to make funds available this year.
The NBBF board is likely to meet in the first week of February to map out the way forward in this difficult corner the national teams have been boxed into and also to jump start all the four national leagues.
The two reports of the ad-hoc Committees set up by the Federation to look into possible review of the 2019 NBBF constitution and the peace and reconciliation committee will be x-rayed at the board meeting.