Masai Uri, Ime Udoka furious over Nigerian basketball’s withdrawal form international competitions

SAN FRANCISCO Toronto Raptors president Masai Umiri Boston Celtics Both coach Ime Udoka protested Sunday the Nigerian government's decision to withdraw its basketball team from international competitions. This could potentially end any chance of qualification for the 2024 Olympics.

Both Ujiri (and Udoka) are of Nigerian descent. Ujiri called on resignations to be made and for a rebirth the Nigeran Federation.

Ujiri released a letter saying “enough is enough,” Udoka — shortly after his team faced the NBA Finals opponent, the Golden State Warriors — Also, they questioned the motives behind this move by government officials.

Ujiri stated that the leaders of Nigeria's basketball ecosystem continue to rob Nigerian youth of their future and torment the entire basketball community. This must stop.

FIBA is basketball's international governing body. Last week, it was forced to take Nigeria out of the 12-team field that will host the Women's World Cup later in the year. It was replaced by Mali. The men's team has been trying for qualification for next year's men’s World Cup — a significant step towards making the '24 Games.

If the ban is lifted by the Nigerian government, then there is no way for Nigerian basketball teams to qualify for Paris. Both women and men from Nigeria were represented in the Tokyo Olympics field. The men's basketball team, coached by Mike Brown (Warrior assistant) beat the eventual gold medalist U.S. squad in an exhibition match.

Udoka claimed that Nigeria's federation is in disarray.

Udoka, who was a former player of the Nigerian national soccer team, said that he saw a lot of the same things as when he was a player.

It was a problem last summer, too. Brown received a lot of logistical assistance from the Warriors when he brought together the Nigerian players, many of them NBA players, for a training camp. He was responsible for all aspects of the process, including ensuring practice equipment arrived on time and arranging travel arrangements.

Problems in Nigerian basketball are centered around a leadership dispute at the national federation. In January, two presidents were elected in parallel elections. The government is seeking to appoint an interim commission to manage the NBBF while it works out its problems. However, the government has also declared its intent to “revamp” all aspects of Nigerian basketball including the domestic league.

Ujiri said, “The time to change is now.” “I am certain that all African athletes, leaders, and stakeholders will not abandon Nigerian basketball. We will also not abandon the youth. We must move forward. We need a fresh slate and a different narrative. All of the Nigerian Basketball Federation's leaders must step down.

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