By Jacob Ajom
Basketball Players Association of Nigeria has restated its commitment to the welfare of players whom it noted, “ have been neglected for far too long.”
Speaking in Lagos yesterday, newly elected President of the association, Ejike Ugboaja stated that the leadership of BAPAN was out to rekindle the burning desire to play in the Nigerian players and make them rediscover their potentials.
“The players have gone through a lot and no longer get called up to the national team. Players’ welfare is also nothing to write home about and the association is here to help correct these entire anomalies,” Ugboaja said..
“The first thing that we have in mind for the first three months is insurance. Starting from next season we want all the players to be insured.”
The 2006 NBA draft wondered why the standard of Basketball was falling in the country that has produced the likes of Akeem Olajuwon, Masai Ujiri.
“In 1984, a Nigerian, Hakeem Olajuwon, was drafted as the number one pick in the NBA. Masai Ujiri, also a Nigerian, is the current General Manager of the Toronto Raptors.,” adding that the decline must be stopped.
He blamed the Tijani Umar-led NBBF board for the slide as home based players were being neglected for their foreign-based counterparts.
“Players in the league have been neglected for far too long and we want to change all that at BAPAN.
“I came back and played my part in qualifying this team for the AfroBasket along with Olumide Oyedeji and some players from the local league. Now that we have qualified the federation does not want any local player in the team.”
He added, “the three players called up from the league to feature for the national team at the upcoming AfroBasket for men in Tunisia are still at home while their team mates from overseas are training in their camp in France. The tournament starts on August 19 and there is no way these guys are going to make the team.”