Nigeria’s D’ Tigers will certainly be the cynosure of all eyes at the 2013 Afrobasket Nations Cup billed for Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire, given her presence at the London 2012 Olympic Games as it has really fired the Nigerian lads to want to claim their rightful place in Africa. That dream might have taken root in the hearts of many players around the world willing to come home and play for the nation, but as it stands at the moment, that might not be a reality as the hierarchy of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), are drawn on different lines as to who takes the team to Abidjan.
While the federation President, Tijanni Umar believes in continuing with the crop of coaches that made history with the men’s national team with Coach Ayo Bakare as the man in charge, his Vice and Chairman, Technical Committee, Muktah Kaleh, believes otherwise. Umar, in a chat with ‘Free Throw’ stated that it would be in the interest of the nation that Bakare, who seem to have struck a strong rapport with players from around the globe be retained as the man to take the team to the Nations Cup, where he believes Nigeria can make a difference given the caliber of players that were at the London 2012 Olympics, and those that have indicated interests to joining the team.
“I think we have set a standard from our performance at the last Olympics and it would only be wise for us to keep the chemistry going and stronger too with the coach we already understand. Coach Ayo Bakare has struck an understanding with our players around the world and he would do a good job,” he had said. Kaleh on the other hand says the federation is considering former New York Knicks small forward, Ime Udoka for the head coach role with D’Tigers. In an interview he granted Supersport.com, Kaleh revealed that Udoka is one of several Nigerian coaches being looked at for the vacant position.
Kaleh added that most of the coaches on the shortlist are Nigerians based abroad and handling different teams. “We have been looking at a number of Nigerian coaches since D’ Tigers outing at the London Olympics this year. And I must tell you that most of the coaches we’ve considered are outside the country handling different teams and they’re all Nigerians too. Among them is Ime Udoka, who was a former national team player and now a a part of the coaching staff with an NBA team, San Antonio Spurs,” he said.
He said the basketball federation is moving to hire a new coach in order to start preparation for the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship scheduled to hold in Cote d’Ivoire. Udoka, it would be recalled had helped D’ Tigers to two bronze medals in the FIBA Africa Championship in 2005 and 2011. He joined San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach in August this year.