The saying that ‘All that starts well ends well’ could best describe the fortunes of Nigerian basketball in the outgoing year.
Although the game in the country had its own fair share of misfortunes in 2009, if this is placed side by side with the success recorded, it is very clear that the sport made many remarkable progress in the year.
A major breakthrough for the sport in the last quarter of 2009 was the beaming of Nigeria Men’s Premier League on satellite television across the world, with some of the games televised live.
Even at the continental level, such success was not recorded. The satellite telecast of Nigerian basketball matches was made possible through a four-year sponsorship of the league by Multi-choice Limited, owners of DSTV, to the tune of N64million.
At the end of the league, Kano Pillars Basketball Club were declared winners after they beat Lagos Islanders Basketball Club of Lagos in the final of the Top 8 Play-Off.
Apart from the sponsorship of the Men’s League by Multi-choice, the Women’s League, which has Zenith Bank Plc., as title sponsor in the last five years, was also held in Kaduna and Asaba. Lagos hosted the three phases of the league, which the defending champions, First Bank Basketball Club of Lagos, successfully defended. The team’s record was tainted after they lost one of their matches to a local side for the first time in the last seven years.
The new-kids on the block, First Deepwater Basketball Club of Lagos, who were making their debut on the league, beat the defending champions, First Bank, on the final day of the league. Despite this loss, the First Bank ladies retained their title.
First Deepwater also made their debut on the continent. They qualified for the finals of the FIBA-Africa Club Champions Cup for Women, which Nigeria’s First Bank Basketball Club won.
In the development programme at the grassroots, the 11th edition of the Police Rookies Basketball Tournament was held. ipNX Rookies won the tournament, coordinated by Coach Mark Balogun.
The two senior national teams, D’Tigers and D’Tigress, could not qualify for their respective FIBA-World Cups. Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, also failed to get a wild card for D’Tigers to play in the world tourney in Turkey. The board of the federation, however, held its Annual General Meeting, AGM in Abuja. A lot of decisions on how to move the game forward were taken. A stakeholders’ forum was also held during the AGM.
On the international scene, former NBA star and Chief Coach of Cameroon national team, Joseph Touomou, slammed Africa’s officials for the slow pace of the game on the continent. He said basketball officials are the problem of the game.
A top level coaching course was held in the last quarter under review with top FIBA-Africa instructor, Samuel Wanjohi, taking the country’s top coaches through the latest techniques in the game. The Level-1 course was held in Kaduna.