Babatunde Ogunade, the Vice-President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), on Thursday advised Nigeria’s representatives at the 2017 FIBA Africa 3×3 Championship not to put themselves under pressure to win the competition.
Ogunade told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the team should not believe they have to perform as much as the senior national teams had done.
NAN reports that the national under 18 boys and girls teams depart for Mali on Thursday for the three-day event holding from Saturday to Monday in Bamako.
Ogunade said the teams were expected to play serious games and aim to get good points and should not be under pressure to win the competition just as the senior teams did.
“The D’Tigress just won the Women’s AfroBasket at Mali in August, just as the D’Tigers were runners-up at the just-concluded Men’s AfroBasket in Tunisia.
“The under-18 teams should not be under pressure to do that.
“They should focus on playing good games and getting high points. The main objective of the competition is to develop the under-18 players and not to grade them.
“We were invited to participate like any other nation and everyone wants to win.
“Our teams should play tough and be hungry for points but should not put themselves under pressure to win the competition.
“There is no doubt in the fact that Nigeria is already a force to reckon with on the continent when it comes to basketball, as proven by the senior teams,’’ he said.
The NBBF vice-president said the Federation has appointed coach Christopher Okoh to handle both teams which had been in camp for about one month in preparation for the championship.
“NBBF does not own any coach. It appoints coaches to national teams ahead of events, with the aim of getting favourable results.
“Okoh was recommended by Frank Jituboh, the 3×3 Coordinator, from the pool of coaches available to the NBBF to prosecute international campaigns in basketball,” he said.
Meanwhile, Okoh had in a message made available on the official website of NBBF observed that expectations of Nigerian basketball enthusiasts were actually on the upswing.
“The teams are coming to terms with the new-found status of the country on the African basketball scene.
“Therefore, they cannot afford to disappoint at the competition organised by the apex basketball body in Africa.
“I believe every team coming to Mali wants to get the gold and it is the same target for Nigeria. So, we will focus on winning the championship too.
“As you know, we want the victories of the D’Tigress and D’Tigers to rub off on us and we are hoping that we get that victory also.” he said.
NAN reports that Okoh, as an assistant to Peter Ahmedu, has won two national league titles in the men and women league competitions.
He won them with Mark Mentors of Abuja and First Bank of Lagos respectively.