The general elections and issues of finance are responsible for the delay in the commencement of the 2019 national basketball season, an official of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has said.
Afolabi Oni, the NBBF Media Officer, however told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that efforts were underway to get the basketball season underway very soon.
“The peculiarity of this year being an election year is one of the major reasons the national basketball leagues have not started.
“Another reason why we haven’t been able to kick-start the 2019 season is finance.
“The first event we hold annually is the stakeholders’ meeting, where we bring everybody together from the Savannah and the Atlantic Conferences to deliberate ahead of the new season.
“Hopefully, that will now happen sometime in early April,” Mr Oni who is also an NBBF board member, said.
NAN reports that there are four major professional basketball leagues in Nigeria: the men’s Premier League, the Women’s Premier League and the Men’s Divisions 1 and 2 Leagues.
The NBBF media officer said the federation was working round the clock to ensure that the leagues’ for this season take off very soon.
“We are hoping that the women’s league will commence later in April.
“As for the men’s premier league, we are putting into consideration the two Nigerian clubs at the African Basketball Championship.
“One has been eliminated though, but we are looking at how successfully the second club will perform. By and large, the Premier League should commence around the same time,’’ he said.
Nigeria is being represented at the African Basketball Championship by league defending champions Rivers Hoopers and Civil Defenders.
While the Hoppers have been eliminated from the tournament, the Defenders are still in the race.
Mr Oni assured basketball-loving Nigerians that once activities pick up, there would not be any more hitches, especially as proper structure has been put in place by the federation.
“Now that we have a proper structure, the Divisions 1 and 2 leagues too will follow. We are also planning a road show for the women’s league.
“The leagues are expected to run between April and August,” he said.
Mr Oni also pointed out that the 2019 Nigerian basketball season was going to be affected by the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Before the 2019 edition, the FIBA World Cup used to clash with the FIFA World Cup.
However, 2019 is the first time the FIBA World Cup would not be staged in a football World Cup year.
“The World Cup event will clash with the 2019 Africa Games, where Nigeria is also expected to compete in the basketball event.
“This will slightly affect our plans for both tournaments.
“The FIBA World Cup in China will clash with the Africa Games in Morocco. The World Cup will start on Aug. 31 and within that time there will be the African Games.
“But our team’s camping for the World Cup will first begin in the U.S., then continue in Nigeria, before finally ending in China, where Nigeria will participate in an annual basketball tournament before the World Cup.
“We also hope that D’Tigers will play some friendly games along the line,” he said.
NAN reports that the FIBA World Cup draw will take place at the Shenzhen Cultural Centre, Shenzhen in China on Saturday.
Nigeria is one of the 24 participating countries, and they will know their opponents at the end of the draw.
Mr Oni was positive about Nigeria’s chances of getting a favourable draw, in spite of losing two of its three final qualifying games.
“We finished as number one in Africa and leaders of Group F with 22 points. So, our performance at the final qualifiers will not negatively affect the draw.
“Having said that, we should not forget it is a basketball World Cup and there is usually no easy pick. At the end, every country at the tournament has a potential to win it,” he said.