Pillars' Flop, A Bad Signal For Nigerian Basketball


When the senior national basketball team, D’Tigers qualified and recorded an average performance at the 2012 Olympics held in London few months ago, the followers of the sport saw the feat as a step forward in the development of basketball in the country.

But, just few month down the rail, all cannot be said to be well with Nigeria’s basketball going by the performances of Nigerian clubs at continental tourneys held recently.

Kano Pillars basketball club of Kano, who are Nigeria’s domestic league champions, performed woefully at the just ended African Champions Cup championship held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The coach Sani Ahmed tutored Pillars who beat all comers in the DSTV-sponsored Nigerian premier league last season managed to win one out of the five Group B matches they played.

After two closed losses against Petro Athletico of Angola and Etoile Du Sahel of Tunisia in their first round of matches, the Nigerian representatives finally got their season underway with a 68-70 points win over Egyptian power house Al Ahly.

However, Pillars could not repeat the same feat in their subsequent two group matches against Primeiro D’Agosto of Angola and Mazembe of DR Congo as they lost 70-78 and 65-72 respectively.

As a result, the former African champions shamefully finished second to the last in their group and failed to qualify for the quarter final of the tourney.

Pillars crushed hosts Mangomo Basket 101-49 in their classification match to finish ninth out of the twelve teams that participated in the championship.

Angolan Primeiro D’Agosto defeated their archrivals Petro de Luanda 80-69 in the final match to win their 8th continental title.

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Kano Pillars’ dismal performance in Malabo happened when First Deepwater club and First Bank club fans were yet to come to terms with the  unimpressive showings put up by the clubs at the 2012 African Clubs Champion tournament held in Abidjan, Cote d’voire.

The two Nigerian representatives at the highest female clubs championship in Africa failed to live up to expectation as they also finished outside the podium in Abidjan.

The tourney was won by Liga Muculmana of Mozambique, a club that did not qualify for the finals of the championship when it was hosted in Lagos Nigeria in 2012.

Speaking on the recent poor showings of Nigerian clubs on the continent, Secretary General of NBBF, Francis Gbiri said that it is a shame that the clubs representing the country on the continent are not emulating D’Tigers when they qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games.

He said: “We are concerned that our teams are not doing as expected. Just recently, our female teams did not put up a good outing at the women’s championship in Abidjan and now, Kano Pillars did not finish well in Malabo. It calls for big concern.”

According to a basketball enthusiatist, Adeleye Isaiah the reason Nigerian teams are not performing outside the country is because of neglect by the club owners.

Isaiah also called for more attention on the local league and the governing body, NBBF, to provide a conducive environment for corporate bodies to support the sport.

throw their weight behind the clubs.

—Bamidele Olowosagba

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