A lot has gone down in the past days over the sudden removal of Sam Vincent as head coach of the senior women’s national team, D’Tigress on August 2, 2018. ACLSports.com investigates.
Many think a better approach should have been deployed rather than a sack, while others believe it was the best decision for Nigeria Basketball ahead of the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has since moved on, replacing Vincent with former assistant coach of the NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, Otis Hughley.
Vincent never foresaw his termination with the D’Tigress having won the hearts of basketball lovers in Nigeria with his previous records. He had also led the D’Tigress to their second Afrobasket title in 2005.
Vincent returned as the D’Tigress head coach last year leading the team to a 8-0 record in the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket in Bamako, Mali. The team clinched their third Afrobasket title by beating Senegal by 65-48 points in the final and consequently qualifying for the FIBA women’s basketball World cup in Spain.
Following his exploits last year in Mali, one would have expected a contract extension for the American but it didn’t happen. However, our investigations reveal that behind the scenes, Vincent was contacted again on his availability to take his African Champions to the Tenerife, Spain based World Cup.
As an experienced coach, Vincent sent a list of demands to the NBBF for him to take the job and for the team to have a successful outing.
These demands – in documents obtained by www.aclsports.com – included the return of Mfon Udoka as the Team Manager and a few other individuals in his backroom staff. He also recommended Orlando, Florida as the US Base Camp of the D’Tigress as it was before the 2017 AfroBasket win in Mali.
Vincent’s letter was in January of 2018. The NBBF it seems took their time in considering these demands in that letter and did not respond as quickly as Vincent wanted or had hoped they will.
Six months later, precisely June 13, Vincent wrote another letter to the NBBF informing them of his summer schedule starting in Altamonte Springs, Florida and ending in Saudi Arabia on August 10. At that time, he was yet to get a definite agreement on his D’Tigress role. A deadline of June 20 was stated in the letter to give the NBBF ample time to decide his fate or “his availability won’t be guaranteed till September 10”.
On June 21, the NBBF sent Vincent a letter re-appointing him as head coach of the D’Tigress for three months (July to September) which covers the duration of the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain. The NBBF also agreed to pay $5000 per month totalling $15,000 for the period with a bonus for a podium finish.
The NBBF in their letter – a copy of which we have seen – apologised for the delay in getting back to Vincent adding that they “would have preferred to have had a face to face meeting with him” instead of this letter.
As expressed in his email of a day before to the Federation in which he had itemised his Summer plans, Vincent’s chances of working fully with the team was not looking good at all. In addition, the NBBF were not prepared to camp the team on Orlando. “Atlanta provided the Federation a much cheaper option” a source close to the NBBF told us.
Another sticking point was that of Ms Udoka’s reappointment as Team Manager – the position she had in Mali. “That was never going to happen” our source said. “Vincent was probably just chancing his arm there as there was no way the Federation was going to get her back into that role. She did not cover herself in glory in Mali.”
After a little going back and forth, our investigations revealed that Vincent then got back to the Federation saying he will join the Atlanta camp and take over the coaching job on September 1st – a mere 21 days to the World Cup.
Quite naturally, the NBBF refused to allow this and terminated the appointment. “He clearly was not committed to the task at hand and we owed it to the country not to take preparations of the African Champions lightly so we chose to terminate the appointment” an NBBF source said.
The FIBA Women’s World Cup in Tenerife, Spain begins on September 22nd to 30th 2018.