‘Enemies’ everywhere
Apart from the injury worries for both the coaches and medical team of Team Nigeria at the on-going 2013 Afrobasket in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, their seems to be ‘enemies’ lying in wait for the Olumide Oyedeji/Ike Diogu co-captained team.

From coaches to players of the Central Africa Republic team, it is a warning of revenge when both sides battle today  here. The talk is worse because both teams stay at the same Ibis Hotel in the Plateau area of Abidjan.

What is their grouse? Central Africa Republic, CAR, say they want to avenge the ‘whipping’ the Nigerian team gave them in the same competition in Madagascar two years ago.

Olumide turns language instructor

With the exception of a few players like Ike Somtochukwu Diogu, Chamberlain Nnameka Oguchi   and Ben Chukwukelu who have visited Nigeria once or twice, other players in Team Nigeria here are coming for the first time.

A stroll into the Nigerian camp will make a non-Nigerian think he is in the camp of America’s Dream Team or any other team in the NBA. You have to really strain your ears to hear what they are saying.

Olumide Oyedeji was home trained before he joined the USA train for the NBA draft. But he now plays in China. At the restaurant one evening, he couldn’t help but stop Abdulwahab Alade Aminu, the older of the Aminu brothers in the team when he miss-pronounced his name Olumide-de.

“That is not how to pronounce the name,” Olumide yelled. He went on to teach him, but Alade couldn’t get it right. Neither could he pronounce his own middle name, Alade..

Diogu and Uzoh got theirs right. Diogu could also say odimma(it’s fine) when asked kedu(how are you) in Ibo. Uzoh is fun to be with as he mimick his Ibo brothers well. I later found out that he watches Nollywood films a lot the US.

Jollof rice with stew?

Since we arrived Abidjan for the Afrobasket, Team Nigeria players and officials have not tasted any Nigeria delicacy as our menu has always been continental with the hard French bread to support it. My oga at the top, Tony fineboy Ubani was a fan of the French bread in Tunisia in 2004 when we went there for the Africa Nations Cup.

Without butter on it, you risk losing your teeth but I don’t know why Ubani fell in love with it. Thank God I learnt to eat it very well after watching Tony closely. These players are also enjoying the bread here.

I decided to ask Richard Oruche, now in POP after fracturing his left foot, which Nigerian food he loved best and he responded  “oh I love my Jollof rice with stew.” Jollof rice with stew? I thought that was not the normal way as the delicacy was already with stew. Gladys and Dupe at the Canal, Vanguard’s restaurant, are always quick to tell you that.

He didn’t end there as he reeled out other foods like dodo, eba with egusi soup and surprisingly, amala. Amala? Can you prepare it, I asked him. “Oh men, it’s not difficult at all. Just boil water and stir the powder in it,” he said. That must be semovita he was talking about because I know amala is not that easy to prepare.

Phone drama at training

Nigerian players have been very free here, tweeting, chatting and exchanging pleasantries with everybody. When you see them joking, you will remember the life of students who take life very easy.

On Sunday, as usual, they went out for a morning workout preparatory to the evening’s crucial game against Cameroon at the Felix Houphouet Boigny University. The two injured players, Richard Oruche and Andy Ogide, who now walk with the aid of crutches, joined and sat on the bench watching.

At the end of training, Oruche, who is still sulking over   his inability to show his shooting skill in the competition, took to the court, in crutches, to shoot from the perimeter, and he did fairly well despite his injury.

While doing this, he left his expensive handset on the bench. He forgot to take it as the players made for the bus taking them to the hotel but suddenly realised that he left his phone on the bench during training.

He never saw it when he got there and the guards and team assistants who were there denied seeing it. The coaching crew, the players, Francis Gbiri, the NBBF Secretary General and this reporter started   a frantic search for it everywhere including the assistants’ pockets to no avail.

Every bit of equipment in a corner of the hall was turned upside down but to no avail. We even went outside the hall thinking that the thief may have thrown it through the door or window and yet no success.

Relief however, came the way of Oruche, his team-mates and the police officer attached to them when suddenly, Olumide Oyedeji went into the dressing room and behold there it was   lying on one of the lockers.

The assistants, who were the suspects, all denied knowledge of it. To the team, that was irrelevant since the phone was recovered but we all took one lesson away from there, be watchful henceforth



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