The men’s national basketball team D’Tigers on Tuesday departed for China for the final phase of their 2019 FIBA World Cup preparations with the help of a loan secured by the Nigerian Basketball Federation.
The team, earlier scheduled to depart on Monday, had to wait for the NBBF President, Musa Ahmadu-Kida, to return from Senegal, where he went to cheer the D’Tigress to their fourth African title before they could leave.
The team’s preparation for the tournament has been hindered by lack of funds and non-payment of allowances.
Ahmadu-Kida said the federation had to source for a loan to enable the team to make the trip to China.
“The basic principle we have at the NBBF is that we intend for the players to be given the best environment to play,” Kida said.
“The players are our principal clients and once you make them your principal client, they will play for you.
“The male team will make a statement at the World Cup in China; remember we were the first team to qualify for the World Cup.
“We are having challenges, so what we are expecting is that the Federal Government will come in to help our efforts. We have so far brought the national team to qualify for the World Cup and we hope they step in to take over their national team.
“The journey has not been easy due to delay in the release of funds by the Federal Government.
The federation has bent backwards once again to ensure that we do what we need to do to save Nigeria from global embarrassment by missing the World Cup.”
Kida expressed optimism that the Federal Government would intervene and rescue the team and the federation financially before the competition commenced.
“We are trying to internally generate funds from sponsorships, but before then, the government must support us. The national teams are national property, which must be catered for by the government.”
D’Tigers will feature in the Peak Invitational International tournament, which tips off on Thursday to August 27.
Alex Nwora’s side will play against fellow World Cup qualifiers Iran and Montenegro, before playing Poland in Yangzhou as part of their preparations.
D’Tigers are drawn in Group B alongside Russia, Argentina and Korea. They will face Argentina in their first game on August 31 in Wuhan.