Chairman, Mark Mentor Basketball Club of Abuja, Igoche Mark, has vowed to end the Nigeria’s national men and women basketball teams, D’Tigers and D’Tigress’ reliance on foreign-based players if he becomes the president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).
Mark, who made the pledge while chatting with newsmen recently in Abuja, attributed the continued reliance of D’Tigers and D’Tigress on foreign-based players to non-existence of domestic league and development of basketball in the country.
He said if given the opportunity to lead the Nigeria Basketball Federation in the coming elections, he will unite Nigeria’s basketball family and provide the necessary opportunity for home-based players to challenge their foreign counterparts for green-white-green jersey in the national teams.
“The problem with our national teams and the reason why we are now relying on foreign players 100 percent is because nothing is happening at home. No basketball development going on here, no league, no championship. How will you see home- based players playing for national teams or see them improve?
“Before now, I remember very well that one of the things we used to look up to as players is to play for Nigeria whether at the junior and senior level. When you are working out, playing, your ultimate goal is to be invited to the national camp, and when the players are in camp, we see them playing, training and it motivates us to work harder to make the team.
“But at the moment, there is no hope and that is the reason we are now relying 100 percent on our foreign-based players because they are playing regularly somewhere for their clubs, and it was easy for us to just call them and assemble the team to play.
“We can’t develop our basketball if we continue that way. We have to focus on home and develop our league. National teams’ camps must start from Nigeria.
Anybody wanting to play for Nigeria must come and start camp from here. Even the home-based players will have the opportunity to train, play and interact with the team. Seeing the national players training or watching them alone will encourage home-based players, and they would look forward to being like them. That was what we were used to before, and we have to bring back that culture,” he stated.