Basketball: Who should run the Kwese League?

Basketball: Who should run the Kwese League?

Despite calls from the Musa Kida-led faction to teams not to honour the Kwese Premier Basketball League organised by the Tijani Umar-led faction, the week one fixtures went on un-interrupted on Sunday.

On May 2nd 2018, letters were sent to clubs not to honour the League or face a ban Rather than pull out, fourteen teams competed in week 1 games across 7 centres.

In the Atlantic Conference, Kwara Falcons, Oluyole Warriors, Delta Force, Anambra Flames, Hoops & Read, Comets, Nigeria Customs and Police Baton competed while Kano Pillars, Gombe Bulls, Plateau Peaks, Niger Potters, Bauchi Nets and Civil Defenders in the Savannah Conference. Clubs like Rivers Hoopers, Mark Mentors, Ahip Giants and Abuja All Stars who both gained promotion from the National Division 1 in March were left out.

Two former champions, Mentors and Hoopers pulled out because their sponsors who have an affiliation with the Kida group didn’t permit them. As for Abuja All Stars, they pulled out not for political reasons but financial. ACLSports learnt that funding will be a big challenge for the owner who intends to run for a political office in his senatorial zone. Their fixture with Ahip Giants couldn’t hold because they didn’t show up at the venue. Delta Force took Hoopers’ slot while Bauchi Nets made use of Mark Mentors’ slot.

Who is in charge of the Kwese Premier Basketball League?

Factional NBBF President Tijani Umar brought the $12M Kwese deal last season which is meant to run for 5 years but the Musa Kida faction believe they ought to be in charge of the dealings with Kwese from now on following FIBA’s letters.

Kida, acting on the letter sent by FIBA in which all communication with the NBBF will be through him, Babs Ogunade (Vice-President) and Chimezie Asiegbu (Secretary-General) pending when an election takes place recognising none of the elections held on June 12 in Kano and June 13 in Abuja.

The Kida group had wanted to take charge of the Kwese League last season and efforts made to stop the playoffs proved abortive. Civil Defenders and Mark Mentors didn’t honour the Conference 6 while Rivers Hoopers didn’t show up for the final 8 in Kano. The two finalists, Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls who were to represent Nigeria on the continent were almost denied tickets it took the intervention of FIBA, concerned groups and National Assembly for their participation to be guaranteed.

Basketball stakeholders meeting in Abuja

Last season is gone and expectedly, the Kwese League should begin with lessons learnt from last season. Any sponsor in Kwese’s shoes will hope the internal wrangling is resolved to allow the free flow of basketball and a value for their sponsorship.

The initial deadline of November 30 came, extended to February 28 and yet a lasting peace has eluded the basketball family. Despite calls for a fresh election, it is believed by the Kida group that they have a mandate which authorises them to take charge of basketball affairs in Nigeria.

Umar-led faction organised the National Division 1 and 2 in March and promoted four teams, two each in Atlantic Conference and Savannah Conference and thereafter the date for the new season was set for May 6, 2018.

Like the Kida faction, Umar thinks he also has the right to organise a league considering that both elections were null and void, he has also been given a go ahead to organise a league. While he feels his faction should run the league, the Kida group can take charge of the national teams. The competition between the two factions on who should take charge will continue as long as a recognised board hasn’t been declared by FIBA.

Two weeks ago, the two factions held separate meetings in Abuja and Lagos on the same day. Kida group unveiled Total as sponsors for National Division 1 and 2, N60 million for 2 years

The Umar group organised Teams Meeting and Technical Officials’ Training Programme in Abuja to begin the new season. According to Kida at the unveiling, talks were ongoing with Kwese to commence the league.

“We have written to them a few times starting from last year and they have communicated to us. They want us to take a look at the format, modify and indicate our preferred option. We are actually waiting for them to hold a meeting so we can put on the table a new format that is a more constructive way of arranging the games and of course better way they can get a value for their sponsorship. Kwese is still our league sponsor until they say they won’t,” Kida said

Total Sponsorship unveiling

Head of media and communications of the Umar group, Patrick Omorodion posted on his Facebook page on the need to separate politics from the game.

“The 2018 season is about to dunk off and they (Kida group) have again started writing threatening letters to stakeholders who want basketball to take pre-eminence over politics. Players want to play, coaches want to plot winning strategies for their teams, technical officials want to officiate, the media people want to report the game. All these people are not interested in the dirty politics the Kida group are playing. FIBA has not said the Umar group should stop organising the league but Kida believes the league must no go on except his board organises it.

“They have continued to run the affairs of the national teams and the Umar group has not interfered with that. Why do they want to scuttle the league because they are not in charge? The wise thing is for them to continue to run the national teams’ programmes while the Umar group continue with the league until after the fresh elections. After that, whichever group wins, would be supported by all in no winner, no vanquished situation for the good of Basketball.”

The drama is unending

With the Kwese league dunked off last weekend, and a need for the Kida group to organise their own league, a new sponsor is likely to be sourced for as the likes of Mark Mentors and Rivers Hoopers await the commencement of the Kida- league.

Most players of these clubs are faithfully hanging on while few others have jumped off to other clubs for fear of inaction or for the love of the game. There’s a huge probability two different leagues will run concurrently this year like in 2016 when the DSTV league ran alongside the African Basketball League (ABL) resulting to the suspension of the teams who participated in it – Lagos Islanders, Lagos Warriors and Lagos Stallions.

The Musa Kida faction held an emergency board meeting in Abuja on Friday, May 4 to ratify decisions in the interest of the game in Nigeria. They resolved to hold a stakeholders meeting in Lagos and Abuja within the next 2 weeks to herald the commencement of the 2018 basketball season in Nigeria.

A fresh election conducted soon is the only remedy to the lingering crisis in Nigeria Basketball.

Week 1 Results of Kwesè Premier Basketball League

Atlantic Conference

Game 1-Kwara Falcons 83-60 Oluyole Warriors

Game 2-Delta Force 74-69 Anambra Flames

Game 3-Police Baton 62-71 Customs

Game 4-Ebun Comets 60-70 Hoops&Read

Savannah Conference

Game 1-Gombe Bulls 72-64 Bauchi Nets

Game 2-Niger Potters 81-69 Plateau Peaks

Game  3-Civil Defence 68-83 Kano Pillars

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