D’Tigers played at the 2012 Olympic Games in London
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria’s qualification for the basketball event of the 2012 London Olympic Games appears to be yielding more dividend for the country as America’s NBA is planning to introduce the 3X basketball competition in Lagos later in the year.
NBA’s Vice President, Amadou Gallo Fall, who is on a four-day working visit of the country, said at an interactive session with sportswriters in Lagos Monday that the introduction of the game was part of the overall strategy to further popularize basketball in the continent.
“Across the board, basketball is the number two sport in Africa. Another point of motivation is that we have seven players in the NBA, not counting on those born in the USA, who are playing for other countries. These players serve as role models to the young ones, who are the targets of most of our programmes,” said Fall who is a Senegalese but having operational base in South Africa.
Just like FIBA’s Three-on-Three that is very popular on the streets of Lagos and beyond, the NBA is planning to use the country’s qualification for the London Olympics to make it easier for everyone interested in the sport to play the game. And part of the strategy is to train the trainers who will in turn impart their knowledge to the younger generation of basketball players.
“We will also introduce the 3X competition which will involve all the African countries with then final holding in Nigeria towards the end of the year. The winner of the 3X competition will go to the US to compete with other qualifiers from across the world. We have a partnership that is community-based, which will be announced in the next three months,” revealed the NBA chief.
The former Dallas Mavericks scout is also planning to meet with stakeholders in the game with a view to finding ways of building on success of the qualification of Nigeria’s D’Tigers for the Olympic Games.
“The NBA wants to grow the game from the grassroots and we have been engaged in doing this since 1993. There is a long history with the continent, but the aim is to get new Akeem Olajuwons, Olumide Oyedejis, Obinna Ekezies and several others and to do this, we need the co-operation of everybody involved in the game.
“In 2003, we started with the ‘Basketball Without Borders,’ where we bring NBA greats and coaches for a grassroots development programme that gives back to the community.
“We are a business enterprise and at the same time we try to develop the communities through exposure to basketball,” said Fall.
He is particularly excited by the growth of the game in Africa, stressing that basketball has grown in leaps and bounds since NBA sets up shop in South Africa.
“Today we have a full fledged league in South Africa, and we feel that if we can do it there, where the knowledge is still low, we can do better in a basketball loving country like Nigeria,” concludes the visiting NBA official who further revealed that he has met with the leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) with a view to raising the bar for the game in the country.