By Maxwell Kumoye and Trust Ittai

The Nigeria’s male national basketball team D’Tigers and it’s female counterpart D’Tigress are in for a very rough ride in the days and months ahead, if reports reaching this publication are true.

Both teams have major schedule of events in this year and the governing body of the slamming and dunking game in Nigeria, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), is increasingly being frustrated by multiple forces within and outside its control.

About a month, to the make or break final window of the FIBA 2023 Men’s World Cup Qualifiers in Luanda, Angola, the NBBF, is yet to get a firm commitment of availability of funds to begin D’Tigers preparation for the event from the Sports Ministry.

Nigeria needs to win all their games in group E during the last Window and hope other results go their way to stand a chance of picking one of the four tickets left from the continent. Cote D’Ivoire have picked the first ticket already.

Teams in Group E are, Angola, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria and Uganda. Cote D’Ivoire is on 14 points, Angola 12 points, Cape Verde 11 points, Nigeria 10 points, Guinea and Uganda are on 8 points each.

Lack of adequate funding explains why D’Tigers have been without their regular head coach in all their outings in Benguela, Angola, in November 2021, July 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda and in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in August 2022.

On these three occasions D’Tigers have been managed by three different head coaches and different supporting staffs. This has left the team vulnerable, weak and without a unique and consistent playing formation.

The funds sourced for the preparations and participations in the Qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on behalf of the Sports Ministry by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), have not been fully refunded.

This development has left a very dip wound in the hearts and minds of some key and committed members of the NBBF, who have been sourcing for funds for the various international engagements of D’Tigers and D’Tigress in the last five years.

We can report authoritatively that, it’s only the first Window of the FIBA Men’s World Cup Qualifiers in November 2021 in Angola that the Sports Ministry and the Sports Minister handled that members of D’Tigers and their coaching crew have been fully paid.

It is noted too, that the country’s participations at the Men’s Afrobasket Championship in Kigali, Rwanda and Yaoundé, Cameroon in 2021, which was approved by the Sports Ministry but funded by members of the NBBF board is yet to be settled by the Ministry.

In the same vein, efforts to get corporate bodies to support the various national teams as was the case in the past before the 2021 crisis, have equally been met with a very cold responses. 

These multi national companies are blaming the constant government policy summersault and interference, as some of the reasons behind their lukewarm attitude towards the NBBF and its various properties and projects.

In November last year, board members of the NBBF practically emptied their pockets to conclude the 2021 Premier League Season with the staging of the highly successful NBBF Premier League Final 8, in Lagos.

The State finals and the six Zonal finals of the NBBF TotalEnergies Division 2 play-offs were successfully staged in Yola, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Jos and Osogbo. The Federation bore the costs as the sponsors, promised to make funds available this year.

We gathered that the NBBF board is likely to meet in the first week of February to map out the way forward in this difficult corner the national teams have been boxed into and also to jump start all the four national leagues.

The two reports of the ad-hoc Committees set up by the Federation to look into possible review of the 2019 NBBF constitution and the peace and reconcilation committee will also be x-rayed at the board meeting.