Stakeholders need to be committed to improve basketball in Nigeria, says Ujiri
General Manager of Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, believes the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and all stakeholders in the game should pay more attention to players’ welfare and provide more facilities for the game to reach the height demanded by the enormous talents available in the country.
Reacting to the national team’s (D’Tigers) performance in the just concluded Rio Olympics, Ujiri, who was delighted with the players’ commitment and determination to excel before and during the games, said discovering players and nurturing them to play as a team required a well-tailored programme.
The initiator of Giant of Africa Top 50 Basketball Camp, noted that Nigeria has abundant talents in and outside the country that can rise to stardom, adding, however, that if more training championships for the players and improving basketball facilities were not taken care of, the national team will not be able to compete favourably with other teams in the world.
He called on private companies and the Federal Government to take sports seriously by helping to revamp existing facilities to meet international standard.
Ujiri also called on the NBBF to organise more grassroots basketball championships, as it would go a long way to raise the awareness of the game at all levels of the society.
“The performance of D’Tigers in the Rio Olympics is commendable. I watched some of their pre-Olympics friendly games in U.S. and I discovered that what these players needed was proper mentoring and encouragement. As African champions, I think the country is becoming a force to recon with in the game. But the NBBF and stakeholders need to put more effort in the area of administration. If more attention were given to the sport, Nigeria can excel.
“With the facilities I see on ground at the National Stadium, Lagos, I don’t think we are ready to improve basketball in Nigeria. We have talented players and good coaches in the country, all they need is proper management to get the best results,’’ he said.