How the confusion caused by recently concluded federation election in Abuja and division created within Nigeria’s basketball governing body would affect Nigeria’s preparation for FIBA Afrobasket 2017 remains a great dilemma as the African champion looks forward to defending the continental title in September in Tunisia.
The African champion will be back Tunisia where they won their first-ever African title two years ago, and Benjamin Uzoh, who played a pivotal role in the 2015 campaign, explained in a chat with FIBA.basketball why they can’t wait for the tournament.
“Like any champion or title holder, our goal is to repeat history and continue to gain respect for basketball in Nigeria.” – Uzoh
Uzoh keeps good memories from the Tunisia 2015 experience.
In this interview, the 6ft 3inch (1.91m) guard shares his thoughts on Nigeria’s opponents and the challenges they could face from Africa powerhouses Angola, Senegal and Egypt.
Nigeria have been drawn in Group A along the DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. Can you share with us your thoughts on the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 draw?
It’s a pretty interesting draw. There is a competitive balance in each group which makes things exciting in regards to when the knockout round begins.
What threats, if any, do those Group A teams could pose to Nigeria?
Every country poses a threat. Our respect extends not only to the countries in our group but also to those in the other groups. Nothing is given and everything must be taken and earned.
Nigeria lift the 2015 FIBA AfroBasket title in Tunisia
Nigeria will be heading back to Tunisia, a terrain where D’ Tigers won their first title. Do you see Nigeria repeating victory again?
Heading back to Tunisia is great in the sense of remembering what we accomplished as a group in 2015. Like any champion or title holder, our goal is to repeat history and continue to gain respect for basketball in Nigeria.
DR Congo have released a preliminary squad including Bismack Biyombo and Emmanuel Mudiay. Do you think that they pose a real threat to Nigeria?
It is pretty cool for Congo to have some of their best players available to represent their nation. It not only makes our group that much more competitive but shines a greater light on FIBA AfroBasket 2017 altogether.
Looking at the crop of players that were with you in 2015, would you want to have the same crop of players to win a second time?
Our chemistry with the group of guys we had in FIBA AfroBasket 2015 was undeniable. Hopefully, we can find a great mix of old and new players to accomplish another great feat for Nigeria.