EXCLUSIVE:The Past, Present, and Future of Basketball in Nigeria

Basketball is one of the oldest team sport in Nigeria with less than 20% fan base. Based on sports lovers’ preferences, football is the most-watched sport in Nigeria with basketball ranking third position. The game is played on a rectangular court with each team consists of versatile 5players whose ambition is to toss and score in a horizontal loop called a basket. In a nation blessed with pools of natural and highly determined sportsmen and women, Basketball receives little recognition as only a few professional clubs are the face of the game in Nigeria.

Contrary to round leather football, Basketball is an entertaining game played by hand with lots of skills and drills such as dribbling, passing the intersection, dunking, stealing, etc. It a time-bound sport that lasts for 48minutes with the session being divided into four(4) quarters of active walking, sprinting, Jumping, and running. Each quarter lasts for 12minutes with a point being taken as the game progresses. For every net close to the basket, 2 points are recorded and a team is awarded 3points for every net far from the basket line.

In the spirit of the game, the atmosphere is controlled by the Referee/Match officials as time allocation is given for recess at halftime. The recess is a 15minutes break that enhances team talk which determines the outcome of the game in the long run. In other climes, Basketball is well-loved and fun to watch owing to the level of tactical development with rigorous training techniques making the game a lucrative and life-changing sporting event globally.

A standard basketball team comprises key positions such as point guard, center forward, shooting guards, small forward, and power forward. It indeed is a game that requires creativity, strength, and intuition. Of all the greatest basketball players around the globe, height is crucial to the success of the game. The most enthusiastic, tallest, and prolific player in the team assume the center-forward position with the shortest with high-level precision takes the guard position.

History of Basketball in Nigeria

Early History of Basket Ball in Nigeria.
Every great adventure start with a beginning. Basketball is a household sport in Nigeria that began years ago and its full inception story remains incomplete without the help of Syrian/Lebanese national, Walid Zabadne who is officially regarded as the founding father of Basketball in Nigeria. His exposure overseas catapults training of youth in the art of the game before independence and selfless sacrificial service to sport humanity earn him the presidential seat of Basketball federation in 1964.

The Nigeria Basketball Federation join the world basketball body known as the Federation of International Basketball Association officially in 1964. The main anchor program of the international body is to register intending countries members, monitor, organize and plan
international tournaments among its official member nation.

In the bid to foster sport unity, male and female National Basketball teams were created with Lagos 3000 sport indoor hall chosen as the training and match ground. D” Tiger and D’Tigress are the nickname for the male and female national team categories with a lot of success recorded both on the African continent and the globe at large. The secretariat of basketball has been relocated from Lagos to Abuja Nigeria under the new administration censoring more on the need to harvest pools of talent within and outside of the country.

Achievement of National Basket Ball Team.

Domestic success on the continent and record third-time world cup appearance in Greece, Japan and China for male National team D’ Tiger is highly laudable as the country basketball team is arguably one of the best teams in Africa. The team won his first Afro Basketball tourney in 2015 at Rades Tuninisa with a plethora of foreign-based basketball players who have horns their skills in top flight league in America. The success was supported by few locally based players who regain exuberance out of the context of the Nigeria Basketball league. Severally the D’Tigers have lingered in the third position in Africa games but came first in 2011 with gold medal. On the international scene, FIBA Stankovic Continental Champions’ Cup was hosted in 2013 and 2016 and the male contingent successfully clinched the bronze medal.

Furthermore, in 2106 at the Olympic in Rio Brazil, D’Tiger came 11th after competing with the best talent across the globe. The female team has performed below per in recent years with a single laurels on their shelves after winning the African female tournament in Senegal 2019. Female sport in Nigeria receive less attention and this has pace way for poor performance except the female football team doing well on continents, other sports lag.

The opinion of the writer reflects the need for local development of Basketball in Nigeria. The ministry of the sport focuses 90% of its attention on football with less concession to other sports. The grooming of home-based players should be the priority of the governing body concerning the rebranding of the basketball league through awareness, advertisement, and provision of welfare to players. As the nation continues to dream of winning world FIBA silverware someday, the integration of foreign-based and local talent in a conducive environment will increase the chances of historic memories to come.

The past is great with memories of one of the Nigerian Born athele Hakeem Adejuwon who success remain a source of motivation and inspiration to millions of future basket ball stars. Starting in the city of Lagos, Hakeem Abdul is the most decorated African star to have ever played in National Basketball Association(NBA) following his remarkable stints as Centre Forward for Houston Rocket and Toronto Raptors. History will never forget him as he rides on his marble of hard work which was rewarded with invitation to join both the NBA and FIBA hall of fame in 2008 and 2016 respectively.

Hakeem Abdul Adejuwon knows as “The Dreamer” across the globe is a proud Nigerian star. He widely loves and respected by fans as far as the secular NBA world. Wining series of individual awards, the 90s was his greatest years of accomplishment with back-to-back NBA laurels. To mention a few, His achievement will grace the sand of time as the All-Time NBA 50th Anniversary Team, 3times All-time Most Valuable Player of the year among others.

The success story list is endless as Nigerians are up and running in the art of the game that requires years of constant practice on accuracy and other basic techniques that makes a professional basketball player. Today, Victor Oladipo joins the league of NBA achievers as he was named “NBA most improved player” couple with an All-Defensive time team.

The future of the game is bright if the nation can take advantage of the resources at hand and incorporate an enabling system that systematically prepared gifted hands from secondary school to University.

About gabby 26 Articles
I am Gabriel Olaleye, founder of InstantNG, a chemical engineer by discipline, a trained and certified football coach at Crystal Football Academy, an entrepreneur, a front-end developer.

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