By Joe Apu
Nigeria has been delisted from the Final Round of this year’s Basketball African League, BAL by FIBA Africa with immediate effect.
The basketball ruling body in a letter dated January 14, 2022, signed by the Secretary General, Alphonse Bile and addressed to the President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Engr. Ahmadu Musa Kida stated that Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers cannot participate in this year’s Final Round.
Reason for FIBA Africa’s sanction according to a document made available to Daily SunSports is that Nigeria did not conclude its national League and as such cannot present a team.
Bile, who is also FIBA Africa regional Director in the letter wrote thus; “Would like to inform you that the Executive Committee of FlBA Afica, in agreement with FIBA, decided at its last session that Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers Club is not retained to participate in the final phase of BAL as the Nigeria Basketball Federation has not confirmed that it has, by its own initiative, ensured the effective organization of a regular national championship this season.
“FIBA Africa cannot therefore authorize the participation of a Nigerian club in the BAL this year.”
It will be recalled that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development took over the Final 8 play-offs from the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation.
National league champions from 12 African countries will qualify for the second BAL season, including through the Road to BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Regional Office Africa across the continent from October to December 2021.
Reacting to the news of the FIBA letter which three out Rivers Hoopers, the club’s General Manager, Ifie Ozaka said the decision is demoralizing.
“This is a huge blow to us and all because of politics that is not helping our basketball in any way. You can imagine how much the Rivers State government invests in the players, annual salaries and other expenditures. We are totally disillusioned by this. The players have been in training towards the Final Round of BAL.”