By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
As preparations intensify for the 23rd edition of the FIBA Women Afrobasket tournament in Mali, the Vice President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Babs Ogunade is excited about the camping exercise which enters week three.
He made this known at the weekend when players camping in Orlando Florida under D’Tigress Head coach, Sam Vincent, were merged with their counterparts in Lagos for the second phase of the training.
Ogunade expressed optimism over the camaraderie amongst the players, which he predicted will be the pedestal for any success that will be recorded in Mali.
“I am happy that I am seeing a lot of fire in the team. I see a lot of confidence on display and camaraderie amongst the players in the camp which for me is crucial to the overall teamwork and output.”
Speaking further, the NBBF number two man explained that the decision to prune the players who until their arrival on Saturday were camped in Orlando, Florida was a tactical move to provide a level playing ground for the home-based players in camp.
“We have made them understand that despite the fact that the other girls are from America, it doesn’t make them more or less skilful than those ones back here in Nigeria.
“The Florida team has been trimmed down to about 7 players while the Lagos camp still have 12 players. We extended the stay in camp for the girls at home to allow them to compete favourably with the ones that came in from Florida.”
“We are going to have a little bit of contest and I am going to enjoy seeing the girls compete for shirts. There are no sacred cows and there won’t be any under our watch.
“Anybody who can contest or compete for a shirt will be allowed regardless of where you are from. Be it foreign based or home based.”
Ogunade also revealed that the board will stretch itself to make the camp conducive and a worthwhile experience for the players.
“We have gone over and above what we would normally do to make them comfortable in camp. I keep asking about their feeding and they tell me that they are happy with the food and the environment. We are going to do our best and I am assured that they will also do their bit.”
The D’Tigress will be filing out against other oppositions at the Palais des Sports Salamatou Maiga, Bamako, Mali in their quest to improve on their Afrobasket 2015 bronze medal adventure.
However, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) also assured that the list of D’Tigers’ players to be invited for the 2017 Afrobasket title defence will be released soon ahead of the tournament to be co-hosted by Tunisia and Senegal between 8th and 16th of September, 2017
Ogunade said that the Technical Committee of the federation is working round the clock to compile names of players who will be invited to camp ahead of the tournament.
Ogunade assured that the list will be officially made public through all the official channels of the NBBF as soon as arrangements have been finalised for the camping exercise.
“We are working on the men’s team. The list will not be ready for announcement as expected. We will call for camping very soon and once that is done, we will officially inform you.”
DTigers won the trophy in 2015. They will play their group games in Tunisia and are drawn in group B of the tournament alongside Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.