Members of the Nigeria senior men’s 3×3 team have expressed confidence at their debut 3×3 World Cup in Philippines. The Kano Pillars quartet of Abdul Yahaya, Azuoma Dike, Lucky Subel and David Godwin spoke to ACLSports before their departure on Wednesday.
The team departed from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport aboard a Qatar Airways flight led by the Director of 3×3 Nigeria, Frank Jituboh.
3×3 captain Abdul Yahaya is optimistic the team can come back with a medal.
“We’re going there to make ourselves, our families and the country proud. We are the least rated in the tournament but we are going there to prove many wrong,” he said
“We are going to play 4 games in our group but we will take it one game at a time. Our first game is against Ukraine,third in the world rankings.The four of us are all champions and we don’t like going to a competition and returning with nothing.”
Dike, a member of the Commonwealth Games D’Tigers team wants to make up for their disappointing outing in Australia. “The team didn’t prepare together and that’s why we didn’t do well at the Commonwealth Games.
He also reiterated that the team will take the games one at a time.
“We are not going there to partake but rather going there to compete. We will take the game one after the other. At the moment we are seeded 20. We want to go there and break records.”
Another member of the team David Godwin, believes they can defy all odds and do well in the competition like they did in the Africa Nations Cup in Togo last year.
“It’s a game of basketball. It doesn’t change anything. In Togo we were rated the under dogs and eventually came out champions.”
Meanwhile, Lucky Subel is relishing his first 3×3 World Cup and hopes their win in Togo will boost their confidence.
“It means a lot to me representing Nigeria in the first 3×3 World Cup. I feel very happy participating in this tournament. We will take one game at a time not going there to complete the numbers but to make sure we do well at the end of the day. We will do our best to make Nigeria proud. Though it’s our first time, I feel the experience we had during the Africa Nations Cup in Togo will help us when we get to Philippines,”he said.
In the same vein, director of 3×3 Nigeria, Frank Jituboh told ACLSports the tournament will be a learning curve for the players. He however attributed their success to NBBF President, Engr Musa Kida.
“Every thing has a first, we have prepared well with the help of the President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Engr Musa Kida. He has always been a 3×3 person giving the team every support.”
“We have been in Abuja quietly, working very hard. Same thing happened when we went to the Africa Nations Cup it was our first time we were going but we brought back the trophy. At the end of the day, it’s still 3x 3 on the court. We are not afraid of any body we will go there and do our best and infuse whatever we learn there to our basketball when we return.
Jituboh said no target was given to the boys but would rather allow them express themselves.
“I am not in the habit of setting target they will just play. They have a very good fighting spirit and they will play to the best of their abilities. They will learn and improve just like the Federation wants to develop the game of basketball. So we have to build it.” Jituboh concluded
Nigeria are in Pool D alongside Latvia, Croatia, Ukraine and Jordan.
The 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will take place in Philippines between June 8-12.