The caretaker committee chairperson of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Musa Kida, has attributed the early ouster of Nigeria’s basketball teams at the Tokyo Olympics to the reduction in their technical crew numbers at the Games.
Mr Kida disclosed this in an interview with reporters in Abuja while giving insight into the activities of the federation ahead of the next board election.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that D’Tigers and D’Tigress of Nigeria were both eliminated in the group stage of the Olympics. This came after an impressive build-up to the games, which saw D’Tigers beat highly rated US and Argentine teams.
The NBBF boss, who expressed disappointment at not making the cut at the Olympics, narrated how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) gave a directive to reduce the technical crew from eight officials to just three.
“We were always entitled to a full complement of our officials in the Games, but after our preparations, and getting to the Olympic proper, the NOC came with the directive that we are only entitled to only three officials, which included only two technical officials.
“I was very sad to understand that they are only going to allow three of our technical officials, instead of the eight or nine, which we are already used to. This actually affected the team immensely and cost us the first two games,” he said.
According to him, he became more apprehensive when he noticed at the start of the games that other teams had full complement of their technical crew, which left him wondering if it was tactical sabotage.
“We became more suspicious when the games began. We discovered other countries were carrying full complement of their coaches and officials, even countries that do not have as many athletes as we did.
“From there, the players became demoralised no doubt, as they could not have their coaches that could be giving them the needed technical talks. What NBBF did, though, was to make sure that everybody was on ground.
“That hurt us so badly, no doubt about it. We interrogated the Basketball governing body FIBA who actually claimed ignorance on why such an instruction came from the IOC at the Olympics. It was the same situation for the men and the women teams,” he said.
Mr Kida, however, said the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, had to step in to ensure a slight increase in the technical crew and boost the confidence in camp.
“Seeing the situation on ground, the minister rallied round to see that there was an increase in the number of our officials for the team.
“The minister really helped us all out by ensuring that we had an increase in the number of officials. By then, we had lost the first two matches at the Olympics.“It was through the efforts of the minister that the camp was finalised without any issue. This was enough of a boost for us. We can’t thank him enough,” he added.
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On the just concluded 2021 AfroBasket in Kigali where the D’Tigers also failed to advance to the quarter-finals stage, he said the absence of the NBA stars and some other issues in camp affected the team.
He said the federation, however, used the opportunity as an avenue to groom and expose younger players and the home-based players as part of planning for the future. He commended Coach Mike Brown for his dedication and professionalism, insisting that the NBBF was ready to keep him to further develop the game in the country due to his vast experience.
Mr Kida said the present NBBF had raised the bar in the development of basketball in the country, culminating in the qualification of both male and female teams for the Olympics for the first time in history.
He declared he was ready to serve in any capacity in the forthcoming NBBF elections slated for September 30, so as to consolidate the development of the game in the country.