Toronto Raptors basketball club General Manager, Masai Ujuri has hailed Nigeria's basketball senior team D'Tigers' participation in the recent training tour held in China in preparation for the fast approaching FIBA-Africa Nations Cup slated for Cote d'Ivoire. He said the move is laudable since it has never happened in the past.
The former Denver Nugent manager in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND SPORTS in Lagos hinted that the tour was a good move for the Nigeria Basketball Federation in getting the team prepared. He added that D'Tigers are capable of winning the fourth coming event even though the FIBA -Africa Nations Cup will not be easy. He described the Chinese tour as positive expressing optimism that the results would soon show at the tournament proper. I think it is great that we had a training tour which has not been done in the past.
It was a good move that our basketball federation got engaged in that tournament. Nigeria is always capable, we have the players, we have the ability, that Afro FIBA-Africa Nations Cup is going to be a tough tournament but we are going there to do our best. I will be there watching also. I hope all the players that took part at the last London Olympic Games will be featured and give us a strong showing in Cote d'Ivoire. I think to sustain from the qualifier to the London Olympics till now I believe the result would be there eventually."
According to Ujuri, retaining Ayo Bakare to tinker the team was a good idea because he did a good job at the qualifier to the London Olympics. He added that nobody considered Nigeria to qualify for the Olympics but Bakare did including winning a match which was a great experience for the country.
"Retaining coach Ayo Bakare as D'Tigers handler is a good idea and taking him from the qualifiers to the Olympics even though we got beaten; at the same time nobody expected us to win and we won a game, it was a great experience for us. So, the platform now is the Africa Cup of Nations and we need to do well there.
The playing tour of China was a good part on the side of the team to correct all the mistakes they discovered during the tour and the Olympics before the Afro FIBA Basketball slated for Cote d'Ivoire, the team should put any form of distraction behind and basketball is played on the basketball court. Like I always tell the players; we might have problems with the federation forever but the game is always played on the court," said Ujiri.