By Olawale Ajimotokan
D’Tigers of Nigeria should arrive Surrey, London Monday for the commencement of their final build up to the Olympic Games after observing a short break, following their ‘miraculous’ qualification for the basketball event at London 2012.
Giving the hint at the weekend was the President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Tijani Umar.
Umar told reporters that the team would go into a training camp for the next 10 days, before moving to the Olympic Games Village.
Nigeria stunned the form guide, when the team under the watch of coach, Ayo Bakare, secured their first ever Olympic Games place, at the qualifying tournament held in Caracas, Venezuela.
The team overpowered Dominican Republic to grab the third spot after Russia and Lithuania.
Nigeria will now require a large dose of guile, luck and brilliance to impress at the Olympics proper, having been classified in the same group with the USA, Tunisia, Lithuania, France and Argentina.
Umar, who was palpably riled by the ‘hopeless’ toga given the team before they embarked on the training tour of China, Brazil and USA last month, enroute Venezuela, said NBBF would not set any medal target for the team.
“People thought we were a bunch of jokers when we told the media in Abuja of our plans for the Olympic Qualifiers, before we went on world tour. It was painful as they were skeptical of our chances. Now we have done what we needed to do and have nothing to prove to any one again. We are going to have fun in London as nobody will put us under pressure,” Umar said.
According to him, the crop of players assembled for the qualifiers, were the best available for the national team in a long time. He said as professionals they knew what to do when it matters.
“For the first time in a long time, we religiously executed our programme. The hard work of the coaches in bringing together a crop dedicated players who wanted to put their country on the global map of basket ball handsomely paid off.”