30th September, 2011
The slamming and dunking game has come a long way in Nigeria , considering the fact that Nigeria is seen as one of the best in Africa along with Angola and Senegal.
Currently Nigeria is ranked 21st in the world by FIBA, the body governing basketball in the world.
The menâ€™s premier league, being sponsored by DSTV, has grown in leaps and bounds judging by the followership and the media coverage of the league in the past three editions.
Expectedly, the rate of competition among the participating clubs has improved with different clubs winning the leagueâ€™s trophy in the past three years.
Nigeriaâ€™s national teams cannot be left out as they have also blossomed recently in terms of performances they put up at major championships in the last couple of years.
Dâ€™Tigers, as the senior men team is known, took part in the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan for the second time in their history. Despite being drawn in the same group with the likes of France, Serbia, who are a force to reckon with in world basketball, they finished third in the group, before they were narrowly defeated by Germany in the Round of 16 to finish 14th overall.
On the African scene, Nigeria have not been able to win the elusive Afro basket trophy but have been able to garner three silver medals and three bronze medals in the last 15 years.
The high point of the evolution was the gold medal the Sani Ahmed-led Dâ€™Tigers won at the recently concluded All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.The Dâ€™tigress could only win the bronze medal at the same Games.
Speaking on the state of basketball in the country as Nigeria marks her 51st Independence Anniversary, former Dâ€™Tigers coach and member of NBBF, Agboola Pinheiro, said: â€œIt has been a walk in the right direction but we are hoping that when we celebrate next year, we would have reached the zenith of basketball in Africa.â€
He said that the bane of the under achievement in basketball is lack of sponsorship for various programmes of NBBF, adding that the undue concentration of resources on soccer in the country is also killing the game and the other so-called lesser sports in the country.
For pundits of basketball across the country, one thing they look forward to is the day basketball will be given the required attention as it is given to football in Nigeria.