A total of 21 players have been selected by the Nigeria Basketball Federation [NBBF] national men’s team preparation towards the 2012 FIBA World Olympics Qualifying Tournament “The players include Olumide Oyedeji, Michael Eric, Solomon Alabi, Akin Akingbala, Ike Diogu, Ejike Ugboaja, Ike Ofoegbu, Ezenwa Ukeagu, Anagonye Aloysius and Koko Archibong.
“The rest are Al-Farouk Aminu, Melvin Ejim, Ekene Ibekwe, Ade Dagunduro, Stanley Gumut, Derrick Obasohan, Richard Oruche, Tony Skinn, Usman Abubakar, Mike Ohiero and Noruwa Agho. Speaking on the team’s aspiration for a 2012 Olympic Games ticket, the NBBF President, Tijani Umar, said the players were drawn from both domestic and international clubs. He said the Federation had for the first time put together the best Nigerian players from around the world based on their skills and expertise in the game.
Newsdiaryonline.com gathered that the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament is scheduled for Caracas in Venezuela from July 2 to July 8. The top three teams at the 12-team competition will qualify for the 2012 OlympicGames billed to hold from July 27 to August 12.
“We have been documenting these players for some time now, and this is the time ever the NBBF is doing.
“They are among the top players in the world now, and we now have probably the best Nigerian side ever,’’ the NBBF president said. The players are based in countries such as China, the U.S, France, Iran, Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Israel, with three of them based in Nigeria.
“The team will be coached by Ayodele Bakare, to be assisted by Tim Shea, Sani Ahmed and Dominic Okon, and all four are highly-credentialed with good records and experience,’’ Umar said. He added that the team’s preparations had however been on since December 2011 to ensure
that Nigeria excelled at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The Nigerian team, known as D’Tigers, is grouped alongside hosts Venezuela and world number four-ranked Lithuania at the tournament.“The countries we will be meeting have a longer basketball history, yet we are going to compete against them. But we know what we are up against, and that is why we have been preparing hard.
“These players are some of the best around the world and we have been preparing behind the scene since December 2011,’’ Umar said. He said the team would camp in China because of the country’s facilities and partnership with Nigeria which would be of immense benefit to the players.
“The team will leave Nigeria Wednesday (June 6) night for China where they will train and play in games against some of the best teams in the world.
“They will then proceed to Houston, in the U.S on June 19 with 15 of the players, where we will play against Team Great Britain.
“The team will then head to Brazil on June 24 for a Super Four competition, where we will play against Brazil,’’ the NBBF president said. He however said the competition for places in the team had been stiff.
“This is because there are enough players for each of the positions and that is why the coaches will now have a hard time in determining who finally makes it after the training programme’’ Umar said.