THISDAY

Udezue Tips Nigerian Basketball Teams for Medals in Tokyo

- Duro Ikhazuagbe

Former American National Basketball Associatio­n (NBA) agent, Ugo Udezue has tipped Nigeria’s men and women’s basketball teams for podium finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games starting next weekend in Japan.

Udezue whose AFA sportswear company kitted the entire Team Nigeria delegation to the Games in the Far East country said yesterday in Lagos that both D’Tigers and D’Tigress have the quality to win medals in Tokyo if there is a level-playing field.

“This is the first time we will be having a world-calibre coach in charge of our teams,” observed the former basketball star of Coach Mike Brown who also doubles as associate coach of Golden State Warriors in the NBA.

The AFA sportswear Chief Executive is further excited by the presence of young and very skillful players in the Nigerian team.

“If you look at the teams, the oldest player is about 30… they are fresh young and very athletic. We have never really had these set of players in our fold. So I expect these qualities to place them in position to medal. So, I will be surprised if they don’t win medals in Tokyo,” he further observed of D’Tigers who defeated Team USA and Argentina in their warm up games at the weekend.

Although the team suffered heavy defeat against Australia in the early hours of yesterday, Udezue insists that other factors beyond what happens on the courts may work against the team.

“I think there will be many forces working against them (D’Tigers and D’Tigress) from the internatio­nal community because Nigeria is seen as a nursery for these big nations. “Many of these internatio­nal programmes are not designed to see Africa on top of the game. Seriously, Africa is beneficial to many people when the continent is down and they will not like to lose their hold on the continent ,” observed Udezue who left his post as NBA Agent working with BDA Sports in the United States to first start an African basketball League before venturing into sports apparel business.

“I was an athlete and my experience taught me that most developed countries see Africa as a farm for talents and it will only remain a farm as long as it is down. If Africa rises, the Europeans will lose. Where will they get their talents?”queries the former basketball agent turned entreprene­ur.

He restated his position with how most Africans are helping several European and American nations remain on top of global sports.

“Look at the big countries with many championsh­ip laurels, most of their athletes are from Africa. The French football team is primarily African and they will want to remain on top by keeping Africa down,” concludes the pan Africanist who opted to name his sportswear company AFA: meaning, Africa for Africa.

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