Kano Pillars have finished twice on the podium at the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 1985 and 1987. They ought to have made it a third two years ago but fell short losing their third place game to the 2017 champions AS Sale of Morocco.
With the numerous times Kano Pillars have played on the continent, one would have thought that the 2017 edition of the continenal showpiece would have been a time they go a step further with little expectation from their counterpart, Gombe Bulls, debutants at last year’s competition.
In a chat with ACLSports, Pillars coach Sani Ahmed pointed out some factors responsible for his team’s poor outing at the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup in Tunisia.
“We got two players from Tunisian clubs, they released just one to us and left the big man out. We were also able to get an American, Jimmy Williams who joined us later.”
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“FIBA refused to clear the other Tunisian though we had problem from the time we wrote to the secretary of the federation, Chimezie Asiegbu. Asiegbu told my club secretary to write a letter to the Tunisian club since we have their address which I was not aware of. I later informed Asiegbu that it was the duty of the federation to get clearance from the club and not Kano Pillars. When he eventually wrote it, he wrote it directly to FIBA which wasn’t suitable for us. It was a disadvantage to us because we had ticket issues and the new players couldn’t come train with us 7 days before we travelled for Tunisia,” Ahmed explained
The former D’Tigers coach said his players were also not supportive and were unprofessional when the American player arrived.
“Jimmy Williams who joined four days into the competition proved his worth on the first day. Afterwards, he was deprived of the ball by other players on the team. Their behaviour was rude and unprofessional. In one of the games, the players had to quarrel with themselves, Abubakar Usman was seen shouting, I got angry and kept him on the bench those things really affected us,” he revealed.
Ahmed continued “The game against the Ugandan side, City Oilers, we should have won but we didn’t get a fair officiating. I learnt the referee was from same region.”
The Nigerian champions trailed by a point going into the last quarter (74-75) before eventually losing 86-95 to City Oilers in their last group game.
“Another game we should have won was the game against AS Sale of Morocco. It was a topsy-turvy affair but we had just 9 players. Ndabu, Celestine Nwafor and Oche Omaga all fouled out. Though Ndabu, Abdul and Azuoma did well for the team.”
“Above all, my players were not committed, their mind set was poor and preparation wasn’t top notch. My captain was also injured before the tournament. He told me he wanted to rest for 2 days and I allowed him and told the medical team to check him. He was checked and later found out he won’t be back into action any time soon.”
Pillars organised an open-screening exercise this month to beef up the squad in preparation of the 2018 season. Ahmed explained the need to bring in young players to the club but plans to retain some experienced players irrespective of their age.
“We hope to regroup, get better players, replace some aging players that’s the essence of the screening. There are things we look out for: level of development, team game, ability to learn and adapt etc. After picking players I want, it depends on what the management decide if they want them or not after the screening. I wont keep players who will not be catered for by the management.
“Usually, I hear comments about some players not able to deliver like they used to because of age and I tell them Stanley Gumut and even Ndabu ( Abubakar Usman) are still doing well in their respective positions.” He submitted.