By Joe Apu
Erie Community College Head Coach, Alex Nwora heaved a sigh of relief at the end of the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 co-hosted by Senegal and Tunisia. Though, the much criticised Nigeria head coach to the Championship finished second place at his first attempt with Nigeria, he maintains he is fulfilled.
Speaking exclusively with Sun Sports on Saturday at the Eko Hotels camp of D’ Tigers on their return to Nigeria, Nwora stated that he had hoped the trophy would remain with Nigeria but even when it did not happen, he is proud of the players and his coaching staff.
I had too many challenges going to the AfroBasket 2017. First, there was the issue of my appointment which many Nigerians rejected not minding my professional qualification as a coach and my track record with Cape Verde.
Many were of the view that Col. Sam as a family friend and that he had influenced the appointment. Truth be told, someone somewhere must influence based on the belief in your ability. Someone influenced the appointment of the former coach, Will Voight and I can tell you here categorically, that the former board had offered me the job before now but the conditions were just not right.
“There was also the issue of players from the 2015 squad not showing up for the championship. Save for Chamberlain Oguche who called to say he was injured and could not make it to camp but would want to be a part of the team; the other players outside of team captain, Ike Diogu had different excuses and I did not want to be involved in the politics of the day. My concern was to get the job done. Because many did not like my face, there were stumbling blocks set before me which at a point in time made me want to forget the job and return to my base in the United States of America.
However, being a true Nigerian who never say die, I decided to soldier on with the job. The period of camping was short but I believed in the players and they believed in me. That alone gave us the confidence to go as far as the final. A silver medal in the long run was our reward and I cannot but thank the players for their efforts. Save for Ike Diogu who was a key part of the 2015 winning squad, most of the other players were having their first feel of the AfroBasket. It was indeed as experience for them and I commend them for their positivity all through the championship.
Criticisms are part of life and it pushes me. I thank all those who criticised me. I don’t hold it against them. My motto in life is to take whatever is thrown at me and look at the other side of it. The positives from such criticisms go a long way in my daily endeavours. But looking back, I thank them especially those who didn’t give this team a chance to make it beyond the first round.
I owe the players and my coaching staff that comprised of Abdulrahman Mohammed and Adewunmi Aderemi and indeed the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF for their believe.
Next line of action
I’m off to my base and need to start working ahead of the World Cup qualifiers. There’s so much to be done. AfroBasket 2017 is over and the World Cup qualifier is here.
I don’t expect the race to easy. We need to work hard to make assurances double sure. On paper, many would think that Uganda, Rwanda and Mozambique would be easy preys. That is a wrong assumption to make.
For instance, no one expected that we would not win our game against the DR Congo but that’s basketball for you. An upset can come at anytime. However, we don’t want to take chances with the World Cup qualifiers.