The Assistant Coach of D’Tigress, Peter Ahmedu, says picking the final squad of 12 players for the upcoming FIBA Women’s World Cup will be a difficult task.
Afolabi Oni, the Media Officer of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), in a statement on Tuesday quoted Ahmedu as saying this was due to the stiff competition in the team’s camp.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that D’Tigress is currently in camp for the 2018 FIBA World Cup slated for Tenerife in Spain.
`From the camp in Atlanta, U.S. preparation has heightened, and the mood has been at an all-time high with players on the same page with the technical crew.
“It has been a difficult one for us here because of the level of competition between the new and the old players, all fighting to pick up shirts to the world championship in Spain.
“The players are competing hard in order to pick up places and make it to the second phase of the screening which will eventually be in Lagos from Aug. 19.
“The recall of 10 players out of the 12 who won the 2017 AfroBasket Championship in Mali has impacted greatly on the continued development of the team.
“When we played in 2017, not all the players were in good shape, or playing for good teams.
“But, from what we have on ground, the experience of playing regular and competitive basketball has given the team an edge,” Oni quoted Ahmedu as saying.
The coach confirmed that the duo of Nkechi Akashili and Nkem Akaraiwe who could not get U.S. visa earlier would join the team when the training’s second phase starts in Lagos.
He lamented the U.S. embassy’s refusal to issue visas to the two players, though he expressed optimism that, as core professionals, the two players would be undeterred by the setback.
“We hope that by the time we get back to Nigeria, we are going to have the inclusion of Akashili and Akaraiwe to see what they can bring into the team before we depart Nigeria for the final phase of preparation which hopefully will be in Turkey,” Ahmedu was further quoted as saying.
The statement went on to disclose that Ahmedu assured that the D’Tigress technical crew led by Sam Vincent was working round the clock to achireve success.
“We are working towards producing the best 12 players that Nigeria will be proud of at the World Cup,’’ the coach, who is the current Head Coach of First Bank Basketball Club of Lagos, said.
NAN reports that the Nigerian side is paired in Group B of the competition, alongside Australia, Argentina and Turkey.
The current African champions will start their World Cup campaign against Australia on Sept. 22, before facing Turkey on Sept. 23 and Argentina in the last group match on Sept. 25.
The competition will hold in Tenerife on the Canary Islands in Spain from Sept. 22 to Sept. 30.