Hoopers’ll Be Better Next Season


Ifie Ozaka is the secretary of the Local Organising Committee, LOC , of the just  concluded 2009/2010 DSTV Premier League Final-Eight Playoffs, where Kano Pillars retained  their title  after defeating Royal Hoppers   of Port Harcourt 77-78 points in the final.  Ozaka, who is also the Team Manager of Royal Hoopers,  spoke with WALE JOSEPH about the  success of the week-long tourney.

Congratulations on the successful hosting of the final-eight tourney, how do you feel  about the organisation of the tourney?
I’m happy and excited that we have  proven to Nigerians and the world that we can do it.  I will also give kudos to DSTV for the excellent broadcast of the matches. I thank God  for  this   achievement and for making things work according to plans.

What’s your impression about the final match with particular reference to the champions,  Kano Pillars, who defended their title in this tourney?
To be candid, Pillars proved that they are the best for now,  as an experienced side.   That’s what they proved to us in the final. For us in Hoopers, we are glad that we lost  through a narrow margin, 77-78 points. It shows that we are getting there gradually. I  believe we are capable of taking the league by the storm next season.

How will you rate your team at the tourney?
We set a target at the beginning of the season to win the title as well as represent the  country at the continental championship. I’m happy that we achieved the objective of  securing a continental ticket, though we lost the title by a narrow margin . We’ll go  back to prepare ourselves for the crucial assignment at hand, that is to be good  representatives of Nigeria at the continent. To our fans, Hoopers will be a force to  reckon with next season at the local scene.

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As the secretary of the  LOC, how has it been organising this tourney?
I got a lot of support from every member of the LOC, including the sponsors and more  importantly the Rivers State government. They really supported us. Everybody worked hard  to ensure we delivered and I am sure we shall be a reference point in the nearest future.

The fans witnessed a perfect blend of music and sports which made them to ask for more,  how did you put this together?
To be candid, it was not easy at all. But I thank God that we were successful. In the  beginning we were determined that to host the best final-eight playoffs in history,  everybody got to work. I think to an extent we were able to deliver and set a standard  for the future organisation of league’s playoffs. Let me use the medium to appeal to  sports administrators in the country, not only the basketball federation but all sporting  federations, to always package their events properly and make it attractive. Sports is  all about entertainment. Once the organisers do the proper things, fans will surely come  around to watch their events.

What was the major challenge that the LOC faced during the competition?
The major challenge was security and we  made  the tourney safe for everybody.  Even when  we lost in the final to Kano Pillars, there was no violence. So my advice to the next  host is to  take the issue of security very serious in order to have a worthy  championship.

Your team lost to Pillars in less than 36 seconds to the end of the match, what went  wrong?
I was not the coach, so I cannot say anything about the technical aspect of the team. But  I think we were unlucky. Like what the club’s president pointed out at the end of the  match, everybody was a winner including the sponsors, the federation, the fans and most  importantly, the players who used their God-given talents positively. Although our slogan  is  to host and win. So, with continental ticket in our kitty, we are indeed the winners.

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