21st May, 2012
Mark Balogun is the Head Coach of Police Baton Basketball Club of Lagos. He speaks on their chances to escape relegation from the Premier League this season and Nigeria’s preparation for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
How would you describe your team’s performance in the DSTV league this season?
Honestly, we have not been performing to our expectation when the season started. But when you take a look at the quality of players we have in our team and with those players in Dodan Warriors, Royal Hoopers, Comets and the Lagos Islanders, then you would realise that we have not done badly.
With 3 matches left before the end of the regular season, you think Police Baton can avoid being relegated at the end of the championship?
Definately we will not be relegated this season. We are not even thinking about relegation at all, our target is to qualify for the next stage of the league, the Super 8. And with 3 matches left for us to play, we are optimistic of our chances to make the Super 8 at the end of the season. All we have to do is to win all our matches and be guarranteed a place in the Super 8.
What really went wrong with the tam this season after a decent season last year?
I think our main challenge this season is the inexperience of some of the players in the team this season. This is because we failed to keep some of the players that played for us last season. They either moved to another club in the domestic league or went abroad for greener pastures. The exodus really affected us in many matches this season, where we lost some matches from winning position because of inexperience.
How would you rate the league this season?
There have been significant improvement in the output of players in the league. But the match officials need to improve on their officiating, because the league has been characterised by many wrong calls by the referees this season.
Apart from that, I think it is been a good league season so far.
What is your take on the preparation of the D’Tigers for the Olympic qualifying tournament holding in Caracas, Venezuela?
I think the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF are on the right path with their decision to camp the home-based players for few days in order for them to select those that will join the foreign-based players that would form bulk of the team. My advice is for them to have at least 2-3 weeks intensive training before the start of the tourney. If they can do this, I see them competing for one of the tickets available at the tourney for the Olympic games.