Nigeria’s basketball teams will not compete in Olympic qualifiers
Nigeria’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will not compete internationally for two years, the country’s president has said, jeopardizing the teams’ chances of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.
President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was withdrawing immediately “following the endless crises which have plagued and almost paralyzed the development of basketball in the country”, read a statement of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development and Sports.
The Nigerian Basketball Federation reportedly faced possible suspension last November on leadership and election issues in recent years.
Dare on Sundaythe minister for youth and sports development, said the government could now “re-engineer sport from the ground up and revive national leagues which have become moribund”.
Basketball’s international governing body FIBA and the Nigerian Basketball Federation did not respond to requests for comment on how this affects Olympic qualification.
If Nigeria is absent for the entire two years, it will not be eligible for the Olympics under the recently released qualifying timeline.
Candidate nations for Olympic qualification, other than host France, must participate in the FIBA World Cups in 2022 (women) and 2023 (men) and/or the first of two rounds of Olympic qualification tournaments in 2023.
Last year, the Nigerian men’s team beat the United States in a pre-Olympic preseason match, marking the Americans’ first loss to an African nation.
Nigeria, led by a longtime NBA coach mike brown, then went 0-3 at the Tokyo Games. There were eight NBA players, the most from any nation other than the United States in Olympic history.
The men of Nigeria have played in the last three Olympics, starting with their debut in 2012, compiling a 2-11 record.
The Nigerians also qualified for Tokyo, also going 0-3, although they faced the closest Americans of all, losing by nine.
Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP who was dropped from the USA squad for Tokyo, has been denied a late transfer to the Nigeria squad for the Olympics. Ogwumike’s parents were born in Nigeria, she has dual citizenship and one of her sisters, Ericaplayed for Nigeria in Tokyo.
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