Royal Hoopers Are Worthy Champions


Coach Pinheiro

Coach Agboola Pinheiro, former national head coach of Royal Hoopers, speaks about the just concluded DSTV Super 8 Playoffs and other issues with BAMIDELE OLOWOSAGBA


What is your view on the just concluded Playoffs?

Personally, I commend the Local Organising Committee of the tourney for a job well-done in terms of security and securing sponsorship for the tourney. The few sponsors the committee could get were able to present a good show for the fans and the players. The organisers proved that Lagos State can host a standard tournament. Also the players through their outstanding performance showed that the game of basketball has improved tremendously in the country.


Were you shocked that Kano Pillars, as the defending champions, could not make it tothe group stage and Hoopers won the Playoffs?

I am not surprised with the early exit of Kano Pillars from the tourney. It has happened to several top countries at major championships at the world stage like the USA, Argentina and many others.


The best team or the favourite team of a championship may not win if they don’t up their game when it matters most.

I give kudos to the Royal Hoopers for being worthy Champions by winning all their games. I am not surprised because they are a good team and they showed it right from the regular season.


Which of the Games at the tourney do you think project the state of the Nigerian basketball?

Without a doubt, the game between Hoopers and Kano Pillars .It was a cracker, both teams displayed tactical game and were disciplined .At the end, it boiled down to luck and Hoopers came out victorious.


Officiating was a major concern at the Playoffs as some of the coaches questioned some calls made by the referees, what do you think about the referees?

I think the referees had a good performance at the tourney. I personally asked for three referees for every game. There will always be complaints about referees’ decision in every tourney. It happens everywhere. Sometimes coaches don’t understand the rule of the game and blame it on bad officiating. I think the referees got most of their calls right.


What is your take on the overall standard of the tourney?

Like I said earlier, the standard of play in all the games has improved tremendously. No team had an easy game. All the teams showed improvement in their offensive, defensive, shooting and tactics.


What do you think need to be done to make the regular season glamorous like the Playoffs?

That is one of the targets for next season. The regular season needs more sponsorship apart from DSTV, there is need for increase in turnout of fans and most importantly the players and coaches must be disciplined. If all these can be achieved, I have no doubt that the regular season will be as glamorous as the play off.


Do you see any of the players at the Playoffs making his way into the national team in the nearest future?

I can see about five to six players making it into the national team, though it will be a different ball game. You cannot rule out the Most Valuable Player of the tourney, Azuoma Dike, Usman Musa, both of Royal Hoopers; Muhammed of Dodan Warriors and a couple of players from Kano Pillars and Union Bank.


Do you think we have the best representatives for continental campaigns next year, considering the non qualification of Kano Pillars?

I think the Hoopers will represent us well at the continental championship because any team that can beat Kano Pillars the way they did it at the playoffs are a good team. Though, they still have to improve on their defensive play because they showed some defensive lapses through out their games at the playoffs. As for Union Bank and Dodan Warrior, they will need to improve on their offensive play, defense and transition, if they are to make appreciable impact on the continent.


Finally, who is your Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs?

The organisers have chosen Azuoma Dike of Royal Hoopers as the MVP of the tourney and I think he deserves it.


The MVP is usually based on the overall statistic of all the players and the influence of the individual player on his team performance in all the games in the tourney. Most times, the MVP is chosen from the Champions of the tourney.