With the stiff competition for the 12 available seats on the final flight to Tenerife, Spain for the 2018 FIBA World Cup amongst the 22 players presently in camp, the assistant coach of D’Tigress, Peter Ahmedu says picking the final squad will be a difficult task.
Speaking from their Atlanta, USA camp as preparation hots up, he said the mood has been at an all-time high with players on the same page with the Technical crew.
“It has been a difficult one for us here because of the level of competition between the new and the old fighting to pick up shirts to the world championship in Spain. The players are competing hard in order to pick a shirt and make it to the second phase of the screening which will eventually be in Lagos from the 19th of August.
Ahmedu said the recall of 10 players out of the 12 that won the 2017 Afrobasket Championship in Mali has impacted greatly on the continued development of the team.
He marveled at the level of match fitness and alertness compared to what the technical crew saw in 2017.
“When we played in 2017, not all the players were in good shape as well as playing for good teams. From what we have on ground, the experience playing regular and competitive basketball has given the team an edge.
He confirmed that the duo of Nkechi Akashili and Nkem Akaraiwe who could not get United States visa will join the team when the second phase of training starts in Lagos.
Ahmedu lamented the refusal of the US embassy to issue visas to the 2 players, but he is optimistic that as core professionals, the 2 players will not be deterred by this setback.
“We hope by the time we get back to Nigeria, we are going to have the inclusion of Akashili and Akaraiwe to see what they can bring into the team before we depart Nigeria for the final phase of preparation which hopefully will be in Turkey.”
The current Head coach of First Bank Basketball Club of Lagos assured that the Technical Crew led by Sam Vincent is working round the clock to produce the best 12 players that Nigeria will be proud of at the World Cup.
Paired in Group B alongside Argentina and Turkey, the current African champions will start its world cup campaign against Australia on Saturday, 22nd of September.