By Victor Okoye
Igoche Mark, President of a faction of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), says the two-year ban imposed on Nigeria’s participation in international basketball competitions will after all bring about good results.
Mark, while commenting on the Federal Government’s withdrawal on Thursday of Nigeria from international basketball competitions, said on Saturday in Abuja that the decision was regrettable.
”But, as painful as it may be, I believe it will bring about some good results in fixing the problem we have on ground,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
NAN reports that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the country’s immediate withdrawal from all international basketball competitions for two years.
“While the ban is regrettable, it is still a welcome development that will lead to the growth and development of the game at the grassroots in the long run.
“This is not what we were actually looking forward to from the ministry.
“But, be that as it may, if this is what it is going to take for us to put our house in order and fix the problem of Nigerian basketball, then we have nothing else to do but to embrace it,” Mark said.
The NBBF president, who was elected at the federation board elections held in Abuja, did acknowledge that the decision was going to have a great effect on several players and coaches.
NAN reports that the other NBBF faction elected Musa Kida at another federation board elections held in Benin on the same Jan. 31.
“Yes, it is going to be a huge blow on the players, especially our national players and the coaches, as well as other stakeholders who are involved in the game.
“But, if this is the sacrifice that we all have to make to ensure that we get things right and get our basketball going,” he said.
Mark said Nigerian basketball stakeholders have no other choice than to accept the decision taken by the Federal Government.
“We don’t have any other option but to stick with the decision taken by the President of our dear country,” he said.
On the likely reaction from the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA), Mark said he was confident the basketball world ruling body would respect the decision taken by the Nigerian government.
“From my little understanding, I don’t think FIBA will go against the decision taken by the government of any country.
“They don’t have any option but to go with what the government decides.
“If the government says it is withdrawing its national teams from international participation, FIBA can’t really force them to do otherwise.
“They have their reasons for choosing to take that decision and FIBA have to respect that. So, I don’t expect anything different from FIBA,” he said.
The NBBF factional president however advised the Federal Government to ensure it followed through with its good intentions.
”Basketball is one of the biggest sports in Nigeria and on the international scene Nigeria is placed very high in FIBA Africa rankings.
“I want to believe that the government have seen through this properly before taking this decision and that it will follow through with the plans to resolve once and for all the problems that have been lingering in the Nigerian basketball family.
“This problem has caused a lot of damages and hindered the growth of basketball in Nigeria, especially at the grassroots.
“It will therefore be a thing of joy and happiness for me if the government can use this medium now to actually put an end to all this crisis in Nigerian basketball.
“Let’s have a good basketball for once that can actually take us to where we ought to be and bring much development as well as ensure the infusion of our home-based players with their overseas-based counterparts,” he said.
Mark assured that the federation under his watch would not be distracted by the withdrawal but would rather continue to do what it has been doing for basketball in the country.
“We have been running the Mark ‘D’ Ball Championship since the beginning of the year and up till now.
“We have been able to bring together over 60 teams and impacted the lives of over 700 players in the country so far, excluding the coaches and officials.
”Not only that, thousands of the game’s fans and others in the business have had great times, with several business opportunities and gains made.
“I think this is the biggest so far we have had in Nigerian basketball and this is what we have been doing, even before the pronouncement by the Federal Government.
“We just finished with the Round of 16 (Sweet 16) of our championship and now we are looking forward to the Final 8 (Elite 8) as we gradually wind down to the Grand Finale where winners of the championship will eventually emerge,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Olawale Alabi