Former Nigeria senior men national basketball team, D’Tigers guard, Masai Ujiri, has backed the nation to put up a good performance at the Abidjan 2013 Afrobasket Championship, between August 20 through 31.
Ujiri, who became the general manager of the Toronto Raptors on May 31, this year on a five-year, £15m deal, said the chances are there for Nigeria to stun the continent- taking a leaf from the Super Eagles.
“The chances of the team are very open just like the last African Cup of Nations where Nigeria won,” the first African-born general manager for an American major league sports team said.
“The African championship has eluded us and we have to win that championship at some point and I have been involved with this, I know how hard it is to win that championship,” he told Kunle Adewale of Thisday.
At the just concluded FIBA Stankovic Cup, D’Tigers mustered the effort to clinch victory in the game against China in Lanzhou and Puerto Rico in Guangzhou, China, losing to the likes of Australia, Germany and Argentina in the two-round tournament.
Their second round victory over Puerto Rico enabled them finish the stage in third position.
The six-foot-four tall manager however stressed the need for continuity in the building process of the team. He attributed the reason why it’s been so difficult to beat countries like Senegal and Angola to lack of consistency.
“We failed because we lacked continuity. Some of these countries that we will be competing have very limited players and they use them to their advantage because there’s consistency.”
The Zaria-born manager lauded the efforts of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) President Tijani Umar and Coach Ayo Bakare saying they: “…have done a great job and hopefully they will sustain the achievement of qualifying and the experience garnered at the 2012 London Olympics as we go to the African Championship.