In pursuant of its mandate of preparing the male basketball team, D’Tigers for the African basketball championships scheduled to hold in Libya in July, the Task Force led by the present president of NBBF, Tijani Umar interviewed some of the best basketball coaches in the world for job of coaching the senior male basketball team. After several considerations, the Task Force on Tuesday May 26 in Abuja announced the appointment of former San Antonio Spurs Coach, John Harding Lucas as the coach of the team.
The former player of Houston Rockets, Golden States Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Supersonics, and Washington Bullets among others has been offered a three-month contract. His immediate assignment is to prepare D’Tigers for the championship in Libya.
The American is enjoying so much support from the Task Force. The president of NBBF Tijani Umar is confident that Lucas will tinker the team to re-sounding victories. Speaking at the press briefing to unveil the coach, Umar said “with the understanding of the enormous task ahead, we took the decision to go for the best basketball coaches who can help us achieve our objectives”.
Lucas is going to enjoy the assistance of Nigerian born coach and assistant director of NBA’s Toronto Raptors, Ujiri Masai and the Sani Ahmed, the coach of Kano Pillars. The technical crew put in place for the D’Tigers campaign in this year’s Africa Championship in Libya has continued to attract comments from Nigerian former basketball players.
First to speak to Trustsports on the appointment of Lucas was Coach Tari Preh who said that the choice of the black American for D’Tigers job is commendable. He said that the Task Force knows exactly what it wants to achieve and before settling for the former coach of Cleveland Cavaliers, it must have taken several factors into consideration.
“The Task Force that has metamorphosed into the present NBBF board knows what it wants. It will not intentionally go for a coach who has nothing to offer. And going by what I know about the coach, he is fit for the job”.
He however advised that the coach must take along with him the coaches who are going to assist him. “He cannot do it alone but if he decides to go solo, he does not know the mentality of Nigerian players very well and that may work against him” he said.
In her contribution, former Nigerian female basketball player, Angela Nzekwe said Lucas is no doubt a seasoned basketball coach and will deliver if properly guided. She said the new D’Tigers coach is lucky because he will be assisted by a versatile coach in Ujiri Masai.
“The new coach has a lot of playing and coaching experience. If he is given the necessary support, he will not fail to guide D’Tigers to their first African championship title. However, if his assistants are relegated to the background, he may find it difficult to succeed” she advised.
Furthermore, Nzekwe said for Nigeria to win the African championship for the first time, the best players must be selected to compete for the country. “Nigerian basketballers are scattered across the world. The new coach must be properly guided to go for the best. And when selected, the players must put in their best because it is high time Nigeria won the Championship” she stated.
Speaking in the same vein, Stella Agu who captained the Nigerian female basketball team for several years said the challenge before the Task Force and the newly appointed coach are enormous because the male basketball team is yet to win the African nations cup.
She therefore commended the Task Force for going out for one of the best coaches in the world. “The Task Force has done a great job by engaging the coach. All he needs to succeed is to go for the best players to represent the nation in Libya”.
The performance of D’Tigers in Libya will no doubt set the tone for the necessary regeneration in Nigerian basketball. If this is to be the long awaited re-birth in the game, all the key actors must work harmoniously to break the Africa nations cup jinx.