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Basketball Excels Amidst Crisis

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Despite the leadership crisis that engulfed Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) after the elections that held in June 2017, the country still excelled in the year under review.
The basketball family was fractionalized because of Tijani Umar’s refusal to acknowledge the result of the election that held in Abuja, a day after he organized an orchestrated election in Kano that returned him to power.
With the Sports Ministry and the Nigeria Olympic Committee recognizing the Abuja election, all the shenanigans at the instance of Umar faction fell flat when FIBA acknowledged in a letter affirming the Abuja election won by Musa Kida.
The letter affirmation letter became inevitable when the NOC electoral committee contented that none of the factions would be recognized at the NOC election that held last week in Yola.
FIBA in a letter dated December 18, 2018 and addressed to the Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), Chief Tunde Popoola, who had written FIBA on the need to name the “eligible representative of the NBBF, who will be at the NOC elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) and to vote” in Yola, Adamawa State.
FIBA Secretary General, Andreas Zaglis, replied, “FIBA has communicated with the board of Kida concerning the affairs of the NBBF since July 2017 and has organized FIBA events with the same board’s assistance.
“Besides, FIBA notes that good progress is being made in regularizing fully the NBBF-FIBA relationship, which remains an internal matter of the basketball family, since the NBBF is not suspended and enjoy full rights as a member,” FIBA continued.
FIBA explained that having earlier received a letter from the NOC recognizing the board elected on the 13th of June 2017 in Abuja and the recent memo of the Federal Ministry of Youth Sports Development revalidating Kida and his board, the international body has deemed it fit to accord the board all the necessary recognition.
The latest letter, put paid to insinuations in different quarters over who is in charge of basketball administration in Nigeria expressly named Kida who recently bagged a Doctorate Degree in Credit Management as president.
The letter granting Kida (or a validly nominated delegate of his) therefore nullified the earlier erroneous pronouncement of the NOC electoral committee chaired by Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima that no board had been recognized by FIBA as the legitimate basketball federation.
With FIBA’s position clearly stated on who is in charge of basketball administration in Nigeria, Musa Kida called on all basketball stakeholders to join hands and contribute meaningfully to basketball growth.
He said despite the recent landmark achievements recorded by the board since its assumption of office, more ground could have been covered especially at the home front if not the incessant distractions.
The year began with the Commonwealth Basketball event in Australia. A home based team represented the country at the Commonwealth losing all games as expected. The team finished the competition with four straight losses. D’Tigers scored 248 points but conceded 355; with the team’s captain, Ikechukwu Diogu, posting 84 points. Nigeria however placed sixth at the end of the Games.
However, Kida desired to take the game to the next level ensured that the team got all the support needed in their bid to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
D’Tigers became the first Africa team to qualify for the FIBA Men’s World Cup after winning their first two qualifying tournaments in style.
However, D’t igress participation at the FIBA Women’s Championship was the icing in the cake in a year the country recorded excellent successes internationally.
At the Women’s World Cup, Nigeria became the first African team reached the quarterfinal of any FIBA tournament and were also the first African team to win more than one game in a single World Cup tournament.
Before the tournament, D’Tigress ranked 34th now emerged as the 2nd best team in Africa, replacing Angola.
Head Coach, Hughley Otis Jr. guided the team to a record of 3-4; including straight wins over Turkey, Argentina and Greece.
D’Tigress progress did not go unnoticed by FIBA president, Horacio Muratore.
In an interview granted to the official FIBA blog, Muratore spoke among others, on the performance of Nigeria and Senegal, paying glowing tributes to the D’Tigress, especially.
“One of the best story lines of this Women’s World Cup without a doubt will be that Africa proved it has some very good teams in Nigeria and Senegal.
“These are teams that can play against anyone and I congratulate both of them for their campaigns.
“Senegal had a historic win (against Latvia) and a great game against Spain (in quarterfinal qualifications). They made the tournament hosts tremble a bit. It would have been amazing for both African teams to reach the quarterfinals.
“Nigeria outplayed the USA – the reigning world champions – in the first half of their quarterfinal and got wins over Turkey, Argentina and Greece.
“This is extremely positive for African basketball and for the sport in general.”
At the club level, Rivers Hoopers, Nigeria champions, described the year as the best ever in the history of the club.
Hoopers for the first time won the FIBA Africa Zone 3 Championship early in December in Cotonou finishing with a 5-0 record.
Looking back on 2018, Ifie Ozaka, General Manager of the club labelled it a bitter-sweet experience for the Zone 3 Champions who played only two games all year, before the competition in Cotonou.
“I will describe 2018 as turbulent for the team. We didn’t play any competitive basketball till November where we had only two competitive matches, which qualified us for the FIBA qualifiers in Zone 3. From the turbulence of 2018 we are ending the season on a high. A turbulent season turned out to be our best season and highest point ever in the history of the club.”
Ozaka continued, “Playing a long league where players have to play many matches, where players get more allowances, where the fans of the team come out and watch the team play week in, week out that’s what I would have loved to do this season.
“Not playing a long league and not just the Kwese league wasn’t too good for my team and also fans of basketball in Port Harcourt.”
“I was very impressed with my boys. At the beginning of 2018 when we went out to recruit the couple of players we wanted I think we made very good choices in the transfer market.
“The players we brought in filled the gaps properly. I told them it’s been a long time I had a bunch of talented young men together as a team. A team I believe that can hold their own against any team in Nigeria so I was very impressed with their play judging that they have not had a long time together.
“They played a lot of physical sides and I say kudos to them and if we can keep them together for another season I am sure they will go on to do great things.”

 

Tonye Orabere

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Aisha Buhari Cup: FIFA, CAF Presidents Grace Kick-Off, Falcons Win 2-0

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Substitute Gift Monday handed Nigeria a sweet 2-0 victory on the opening day of the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament in the City of Lagos.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State led eminent political big-wigs, and FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Patrice Motsepe led football’s top echelon, including President of NFF and FIFA council member, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, to the showpiece at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.
Monday, interestingly a player of FC Robo Queens of Lagos, spurned in the air to meet a cross by Captain Asisat Oshoala in the 83rd minute and nodded past goalkeeper Fatoumata Karenta, six minutes after coming into the fray for Francisca Ordega.
The goal put the Super Falcons in the lead after a rather turgid day on Lagos island, with the Malians showing greater zest and desire in the opening half and returning after the recess with the same impressive fighting spirit.
The visiting Female Eagles had survived a raid on their area in the 5th minute as Nigeria looked to go into the lead with a corner, but the defence cleared. Nine minutes later, Ordega sidenetted from another quick dash upfront, and in the 18th minute, Ageusissa Diarra tested Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie from a 30-yard free-kick.
In the second half, Uchenna Kanu sidenetted in the 67th minute, before Oshoala, who should have scored with only the goalkeeper to beat, failed to get past Karenta. In the 74th minute, Karenta again saved from Kanu.
In the 83rd minute, Monday rose highest in the box and nodded past Karenta, bringing so much excitement to the arena.
One minute into added time, Monday was again at the end of an Asisat’s assist, and looped the ball over an advancing Karenta to put huge smiles on the faces of Nigerians.

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Enyimba Appoints Finidi George As Head Coach

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The former Ajax and Real Betis winger, George Finidi, who replaces Fatai Osho whose contract expired at the end of August, has joined the eight-time Nigerian champions, Enyimba FC, on a two-year contract.
George, a legend of Nigeria’s men’s senior national team, made 62 appearances for the Super Eagles in an illustrious playing career that lasted up to fifteen years.
He was a key member of the glorious era that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and represented the country at two FIFA World Cups, the 1994 and 1998 editions.
Tidesports source reports that at club level, George won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and went on to play for Real Betis, RCD Mallorca, and Ipswich Town.
His first official game as Enyimba head coach will be the CAF Confederation Cup’s second preliminary round fixture against Senegalese side, Diambers FC in mid-October.
Speaking to Enyimba’s media immediately after putting pen to paper, George said, “I have to say it’s a great opportunity for the club to have this confidence in me.
“I want to thank the chairman, the members of the board, and the supporters for even thinking about me. On my own part, I will be here to just work and do the job. It’s never going to be easy but I’m here to work and make the team win.”
Chairman of Enyimba, Felix Anyansi Agwu, stated that the arrival of George represents a new chapter for the club.
“I believe that the time has come for us as a club to open up a new chapter, a chapter that will showcase the many hardwork that has been going on behind the scene and usher in lots of success.
“For us to have engaged a coach like Finidi George who is coming from Europe is a clear statement of intent about our aspirations,” Agwu said.

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Arteta Sees Light For Arsenal

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he sees a bright future for the club despite suffering their worst start to a season for 67 years.
The Gunners climbed off the bottom of the Premier League table with their first goal and first points of the campaign by beating Norwich 1-0 last weekend.
However, Arteta’s position is still under scrutiny ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Burnley after spending £150 million ($207 million) on new players during the transfer window.
The Spaniard claimed after beating Norwich he had enjoyed the “best 10 days of his career in this industry” during an international break when his side was rock bottom of the table.
And Arteta was equally optimistic on where Arsenal are headed with all six of his summer signings aged 23 or under.
“I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time. I’ve seen the light and I can see bright lights,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.”
Arteta is also hopeful the criticism his squad suffered after defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City will only serve to make them stronger.
“It’s tough because it hurts, because you want to see something different. But what you want is not always what happens,” he added.
“Things happen for a reason and maybe what is happening had to happen and it’s going to be really good for the club and really good for myself and everybody experiencing that situation. We have to believe that.”

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