Ahead of the 2015 AFROBASKET tournament billed for August in Tunisia, Coach William Voigt said with the talented and experienced players in the squad, Nigeria would be able to go pass the likes of host nation, Tunisia, Angola, Senegal and other top basketball countries and win the trophy.
Voigt told Nigerian Saturday Pilot reporters, Asuelimen Osasuyi and Ikenna Okonkwo that preparation for the competition is in top gear and would do everything as a professional to put Nigeria on top of Africa again. Excerpt
Your target for D’ Tigers
I am confident that D’ Tigers will be successful. We are here to lead them and represent the country well. We have wonderful group of people and we shall try our best to win every match we play and again represent the country in the best way we can.
Talking about the challenges ahead
For now, I don’t have any problem. Everything is going on well starting with the process of selecting the players and we have commenced getting in touch with the players in their different clubs. We shall get everybody together and start moving on as one team.
I believe we have everything in place to be the best nation in Africa and the world.
For instance, Angola which is one of the best countries in Africa has been organized with their system of play but right now I don’t have any business with who they are. My focus now is D’ Tigers of Nigeria, how to get our game better as a group.
We are working very hard everyday and I’m confident that by the time Afrobasket starts, we shall make Nigeria proud.
Your determination to engineer the team for greater Olympic performance come next year
We are currently laying foundation for continued success in days and months ahead. All we are doing now is to see how we can carry on with our rebuilding process and take up from here.
For me, the Olympic tournament is still far away. Our main target is the Afrobasket competition. D’ Tigers are very good team. Once we can meet our expectations at the Afrobasket, anything is possible in other international tournaments. Right now, we are engaging players on training sessions. Both the players and officials are getting to know each other before we head to Tunisia.
Apart from the trainings, we need to engage the team in series of matches before the tournament so we can know the areas we need to work more on and get better every day.
We are not at that peak stage where we can compare ourselves with other top basketball countries out there but with time, we can do better.
Idea about Afrobasket opponents
Yea we do know them. We will know their current shape by the time the competition kicks off. I think Tunisia will be the toughest side for me to face in our group and so we have to step up our game in order to measure up from where we are.
After playing each in the group, we will eventually meet each other in the final.
If selecting who will play from among talented players is a problem, it’s a great problem to have. I prefer to choose from a large pool of great players than the issue of not having enough players to choose from. So it’s a plus for Nigeria that we have great players who are playing in several leagues around the world.
On whether I will have challenges not having all the players available early enough, It’s my job to know what to do. We also have to understand that the players have commitment with their professional clubs so I think it requires extra commitment from us and hopefully we will know what to do.
Certainly, we will get everyone into camp and intensify preparation with our programme and see how far we can go.
Support from NBBF and fans
We have resumed camp since July 15 and the support has been great. Every day, new People are coming to watch us. The federation is helping us in various ways. Accommodation has been excellent. The players are provided with everything they need to be successful. Obviously, we have a tremendous coaching and medical staff that will really help us to carry out numerous functions.
Our goal is to represent Nigeria in best way possible and we have started with that process and we are grateful to the entire federation.
Nigeria Basketball Federation has invited 26 players to camp ahead of the 2015 Afrobasket billed for Tunisia in August.
The team will be headlined by NBA Stars Al Farouq Aminu and Ekpe Udoh, who will be making his first appearance for Nigeria, while the likes of Alfarouq’s older brother Alade, Ike Diogu, Benjamin Uzoh, Stanley Okoye, Andy Ogide, Jamal Olasewere, Stanley Gumut and veteran Olumide Oyedeji make a return from Afrobasket 2013 in Abidjan.
Also making a return is Chamberlain Oguchi and Derrick Obasohan, who were part of the London 2012 Olympics, and home based stars Abubakar Usman and Yahaya Abdul.
Others are Deji Akindele, Micheal Umeh, Eric Oluwaseun, Obekpa Chris and Ofoegbu Ikechukwu, with the likes of Edo Karachi, Akinlolu Akingbala, Ebie Jason, Elonu Chinemelu, Gbinije Micheal,Olaseni Lawal and Talib Zanna getting their first taste of the national team.
Nigeria will be going to Tunisia in search of her first ever Afrobasket crown having suffered a disappointing outing in times past and most recently in the quarter final to Senegal in Abidjan 2013.
Under the tutelage of new coach, American William Voigt, the D’Tigers will be hoping to put off the tag of nearly men and rule Africa for the first time in Tunisia.
Meanwhile, the team has arrived for Paris, France to participate in an invitational tournament from July 22 to 27.The team depart for Tunis on August 15 for the Afrobasket tournament.