Rivers Hoopers boss Ogoh Odaudu has blamed their poor showing in the ongoing Basketball Africa League on inactivity in the domestic front which has seen Hoopers fail to play a competitive fixture in two years.
The KingsMen, Nigeria’s representatives in the inaugural BAL in Kigali, have been abysmal in the tournament, losing their opening two games and needing a huge dollop of luck to make it out of their group.
They next play Madagascar’s GNBC on Sunday and require a huge win and great fortune to make it past the group stage as one of the two best losers.
Heading into the BAL, Hoopers last played a competitive fixture in November 2019 in the hastily arranged ‘President Cup’ which provided Nigeria’s representatives for the NBA-backed BAL.
The domestic league – the Nigerian Basketball Premier League – has been in abeyance since 2018 owing to a legal dispute between two factions of the Nigeria Basketball Federation which was only resolved this year.
In its place, a series of short, adhoc competitions have been organised for a few teams but nothing comparable to the rigours and competitive nature of a full season of basketball and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic meant no competitions were organised last year.
This, Hoopers boss Odaudu says, is a major factor in their poor showing in Kigali and insists outcomes would have been different if Hoopers had played competitive games in the last two years prior to competing at the BAL.
“That’s exactly what you are seeing right now,” Odaudu said, responding to ESPN’s Colin Udoh on how much a lack of matches at home has contributed to their poor showing in Rwanda following the loss to US Monastir on Thursday.
“For them, the local players, to come out here and play at this level, and also show some heart, because for some of them, they actually played. You wouldn’t believe that they hadn’t played competitively since 2019.
“It was something that there was nothing they could do about it, there was nothing we could do about it.
“A lot of people don’t know that this team hadn’t played any basketball together since 2019. For them to come out and play like this, I think it goes a long way to say the kind of talent we have. Imagine we had a league that was running, and we played competitively all this while before coming here. I think we would’ve seen a different result.”