By Benprince Ezeh
THE Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBF, has named an expanded list of 44 players that will compete for spots in this year’s team for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. It’s a mixture of veterans such as Ike Diogu and Al-Faruq Aminu and some newcomers.
The key members of the team that qualified Nigeria for the World Cup in China comprise team captain Ike Diogu, Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouk Aminu, Ben Uzoh, Jordan Nwora, Emegano Obinna, Ike Iroegbu, Chris Obekpa and Efevberha Michael are among the players that top the list for places to compete against Korea, Argentina and Russia in Group B
Although Alex Nwora, Head Coach of D’Tigers had earlier in March insisted that he won’t include the home based players in his squad for the World Cup, he has now changed his position by inviting a few that ply their trade in Nigeria.
These players includes Agu Ibe, Okpe Victor, Abdul Yahaya, Vincent Nwaiwu and Victor Anthony, alongside former Golden State Warriors player, Festus Ezeli, Michael Oguine and Jordan Ogundiran.
Ogugua Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), Semi Ojeleye (Boston Celtic), Ochai Agbaji, Vincent Nnamdi, Stephen Domingos, Moneke Chima and Joshua Ajayi complete the 44-man list.
The list, which was drawn up by Nwora, showed that the players were listed ahead of the team’s camping, which commences on July 7, 2019 in Erie Community College, Buffalo, USA after weeks of scouting.
With an eye on earning a Tokyo 2020 Olympic spot, the squad also has Agada Caleb, Stanley Okoye, Aminu Alade, Tosin Mehinti, Zanna Talib and Ayodeji Akindele, who featured during the qualifiers.
As part of the NBF effort to effectively prepare the team, D’Tigers will face fellow World Cup bound Dominican Republic at the Palacio de Los Deportes in San Domingo on July 20 and 22 before another test game against ex-NBA and Euro All Stars on July 26, as they round off the first phase of camping.
The commencement of the second phase is slated for July 29, while the invited NBA players are expected to report to camp on August 1 before departing to Toronto on August 5, where they will be facing Canada on August 7 and 9.
Thereafter, the final 12-man team will depart for Nigeria on August 12, for the final round of training, before leaving for China on August 18.
Anthony Nezianya, a sports analyst, said that it would be unjust and lack of belief for the coach not to pick a home based player when they deserve to be picked. ”The players have to compete, that’s the truth about it if they are good enough they will be selected.
“It will depend on the coach if he’s a soft ground minded person, I would want him to look at their performances and the fact that it’s a motivation for the local based players, who have been included in such an elite team, it is also a big motivation for those at home and it would help the growth of our basketball at home, because if they go all out and its only foreign based players, nothing have been achieved and you are not able to let the sport take root here.
“When you have to depend on expatriate players too much, it’s not good enough and you have not made an impression. As far as I am concerned, he has to try as much as possible to make the team more inclusive. Being more inclusive means narrowing down some of the local boys, some of them do have what it takes to be at the World Cup,” he said.
Nezianya stressed that if the players prove themselves, they should be picked and “it should prove a point that yes, some of the local boys are as competitive as the foreign based players”.
– July 5, 2019 @ 15:09 GMT |