Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu says his team must go all out and recruit great foreign talent to ensure success in the maiden Basketball Africa League which tips-off in May.
Hoopers are Nigeria’s representatives in the continent’s premier inter-club basketball competition which was initially scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Basketball Africa League has now announced the 12-team tournament will start on Sunday, May 16 at the Kigali Arena, Rwanda and Odaudu while saying he can’t wait to finally get underway, expressed hopes the competition won’t suffer another postponement.
“I am excited like every other person that has been waiting for this announcement. I am looking forward to it holding and not that after a while we will get a disappointment,” Odaudu told Hoopers media.
The long-serving basketball coach said with tip-off imminent, the Rivers State team must now get into recruitment overdrive and target the “best of foreign players available” to aid Hoopers’ quest for glory.
“My plans are not any different, it’s just go back to the drawing board and work, work, work, practice, practice.
“There is no time any more also considering that we have not recruited our foreign-based players, that is all that is on our minds now to get the best that is available right now so that they can help our team,” he said.
While he’s excited the long-awaited tournament is finally tipping off, Odaudu believes Hoopers’ chances in the tournament could suffer due to a lack of competitive games with the NBBF Premier League still on hiatus.
The coach, however, assures they’ll strive to get up to speed before the tournament starts and ensure they give a good account of themselves in Kigali.
“A month should be enough [although] we are at a disadvantage because we haven’t started our league so you can’t say we’ve been playing any serious basketball but hopefully we will do what it takes to get us prepared for the tournament and come out with a good result.
“I’m very optimistic we can do well and that’s what we are planning for.”
The BAL also announced adjustments to the tournament format which will now feature a total of 26 games, 18 of which will be group games between the 12 teams who have been divided into three groups of four.
The top eight teams from the group phase will advance to the play-offs which will be a straight knockout in all three rounds.
The BAL Finals will take place on May 30 at the Kigali Arena.