Peter Odia is a member of the bronze winning National Under-16 team to the maiden edition of the FIBA-Africa Championship in Maputo, Mozambique. The Ebun Comets Basketball Club young point guard, on their return from the tourney, at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, spoke with WALE JOSEPH on how Nigeria narrowly missed the sole ticket to FIBA World Under 16 Championship in Germany. Peter, who won bronze medal for Lagos at the last Sports Festival in Kaduna spoke on a number of issues affecting the game
Q: What went wrong in your match against Egypt in the semi final of the U-16 tourney in Maputo?
A: Nothing actually went wrong. I can only attribute their beating us to ill-luck. We did all we could to win the game, but the truth is the Egyptians were just lucky to have won the game by 3 points. The game ended 74-71points, but I think if we had had more time together ahead of the championship, maybe we would have done better.
Q: Can you throw more light on your preparations before the championship?
A: Our preparations weren’t good at all. You won’t believe that only two players were together for two days at the Abuja camp. We were able to adjust after playing a couple of games in the qualifiers. But I still believe that if we had had more time together we would have won the championship.
Q: How did you see the tourney as a player?
A: It was a very good championship and it gave us the opportunity to play against the best in our category. We were able to show what we can do. The sad thing is that we could not win the championship and qualify Nigeria to play at the World Championship coming up in Germany.
Q: On a personal note, how did you feel coming very close and yet unable to win?
A: I feel very bad and sad, because I strongly believe if we had had a better preparation, we would have won the championship. I only want to beg the authorities to help us, because I know we have the talents here, all we need is good preparations ahead of championships like this, so that we can show what we can do.
Q: How do you see the future of the game in Nigeria?
A: I said earlier that we have the talents here because I was at this year’s Basketball Without Border (BWB) in South Africa and I saw players from other countries in Africa. My belief is that if we get enough exposure we will be unstoppable.
Q: What was the experience like in South Africa during the BWB?
A: It was a sweet experience. I felt great working with some of the best in the game, mostly from the NBA and training and competing with some of the best among my mates from across the continent.
Q: What advice do you have for the administrators of the game in the country?
A: My advice is very simple. We need encouragement from them. They should pay more attention to basketball because it can also bring glory to the country. It should not be only football. They should put money into the game, other sports should be supported too, to bring glory to the country.
Q: So what next for you now?
A: I want to keep working hard on my game and also help my club in its effort to win the league and with God’s blessing, I will be among the best point-guards in the world. I’m also looking forward to playing for the senior national team, D’Tigers someday. This a dream that I belief will come to pass in no distant future. I also want to play among the best in the world.