By Olawale Ayeni, Abuja
The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has expressed optimism that there is no cause for alarm following the draws that pitted D’Tigress against world number one, USA, France and 2020 Olympics host-Japan which many described as the ‘group of death’.
Reacting to the draws conducted on Tuesday, the federation said it is focused on preparing the teams well for the challenges ahead in their quest to make Nigerians proud.
The NBBF president, Engr Musa Kida, said all the 12 teams at the Olympics have a reasonable chance of winning the tournament, hence there are no minnows.
“Nothing good can be handed to you on a platter of gold. You have to work hard and be ready to seize the opportunity when it comes because to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
He believes a lot can still happen between now and when the games tips off capable of upsetting bookmakers predictions and the fate of teams.
“We have to be focused on what we have to do as a federation with the help of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Sports to ensure we adequately prepare the team, get the right personnel for the challenges ahead.”
On his part, head coach of the senior women’s team, Otis Hughley described USA and world number five- France as familiar foes.
“We met USA and France at the last World Cup in Spain and again faced USA at the Olympics Qualifying Tournament in Serbia last year where we qualified for the Olympics.”
Otis who led the team to the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup thereby setting an African record before winning the 2019 FIBA Afrobasket championship noted that, “We are mindful of the threat these teams pose to us including Japan who are ranked 10th in the FIBA ranking. We are going to prepare adequately to ensure that when the time comes, we will be ready.”
In an unprecedented fashion prior to any Olympics, D’Tigress are currently camped in Atlanta, USA months before the games under the watchful eyes of Coach Otis.
The Olympics games will be held between 23rd of July and 8th of August, 2021 after its initial postponement due to COVID-19.