Udoka and Ujiri angry at the dysfunction of Nigerian basketball | Professional

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka both spoke out on Sunday against the Nigerian government’s decision to withdraw its basketball teams from international competition during two years and potentially eliminate any chance of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.

Both Ujiri and Udoka are of Nigerian descent. Ujiri called for the resignation and revival of the Nigerian federation.

“The leaders of the basketball ecosystem in Nigeria continue to rob our youth of their present and future while tearing the entire basketball community apart – this must stop,” Ujiri wrote.

Basketball’s world governing body FIBA ​​said it had no choice last week but to replace Nigeria in the 12-team squad for the Women’s World Cup later. this year and replace it with Mali. The men’s national team is trying to qualify for next year’s Men’s World Cup – a major step towards the Games of 24.

But if the ban approved by the Nigerian government holds, there is almost no realistic scenario in which Nigerian basketball teams could qualify for Paris. The Nigerian men and women were part of the Tokyo Olympics field last summer – and the men’s team, coached by Warriors assistant and now Sacramento coach Mike Brown, beat the eventual medal-winning American team gold during an exhibition match.

Udoka said the Nigerian FA was suffering from disorganization.

“A lot of the same things I had to deal with as a player which is disappointing,” said Udoka, a former Nigerian national team player.

It was also a problem last summer. Brown received great logistical help from the Warriors as he assembled the Nigerian team – many of whom were NBA players – for a training camp. He had to oversee everything from bringing in training equipment, to making travel arrangements, and even starting a charitable foundation that was trying to raise $1 million to support the programs of the National team.

Nigerian basketball’s problems revolve around a leadership struggle at the national federation, which elected two different presidents in parallel elections in January. The government wants to appoint an interim committee to run the NBBF until its problems are resolved, but has also announced its intention to “reorganize” all areas of Nigerian basketball, including the national league.

“The time for change has come,” Ujiri wrote. “I know that all the athletes, leaders and players in African sport will not give up on Nigerian basketball, and we will not give up on the youth. It is time for us to move forward. We need a new slate and a new narrative. To do this, all the leaders who have clung to the realms of the Nigerian Basketball Federation over the past few years must all step down.

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