The players and officials of Nigerian premier basketball club, Rivers Hoopers of Port Harcourt yesterday protested against the state’s Basketball Association chairman, Musa Kida, for stopping them from playing in the Kwese Premier Basketball League Final 8 going on in Kano.
The team led by the team captain, Bob- Manuel Ngowari, stormed a popular radio station in Port Harcourt, 95.1 Today’s FM, to register their plight in a live programme.
Bob-Manuel, cried out that there was no justification for the state basketball chairman, Musa Kida, who doubles as a factional president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, to stop them from participating in the biggest club championship in the country.
“We came out openly today to let the people of Rivers State know that we have been stopped from participating in a competition we qualified for after playing for months in the regular season travelling across Nigeria to play in the league. After the regular season, we also qualified for the Atlantic Conference Six in Ilorin where we emerged runners up behind Kwara Falcons, a position that brightens our chances of emerging the Kwese Premier League champions at the Final 8 holding in Kano. Our chairman tried to stop us from traveling to Ilorin for the Atlantic Six but this failed after we convinced the Commissioner of Sports that it was all about our career and not politics.
“We don’t know why Mr. Musa Kida should block us from playing in the Premier League. Our business is to play basketball which we use in taking care of our families. The battle for power in the NBBF is not our concern as long as we have the opportunity to play basketball. We had problems in the past about unpaid salaries, our chairman didn’t intervene. Why does he have to stop us from playing in the final 8. Can the Rivers FA Chairman stop Rivers United from playing in the football league? The answer is no.”
He added that, since the club’s salary is paid by the Rivers State Sports Commission, we had no option than to stay back home when the directive not to compete came from the Commissioner came. He explained that it was our chairman that said we should not be allowed to go to Kano. The failure to travel was not due to availability of funds as the organisers of the Kwese Premier League gave each of the clubs N5million for the regular season and Atlantic Six and there was a balance N2million which we would have gotten for the Final 8 if we had confirmed our participation. And if we eventually emerge among the top three winners in Kano, we would have won millions of naira as prize money. This is possible since we had won the Premier League titles back-to-back before. It’s so sad we were stopped due to dirty politics,” Bob-Manuel Ngowari said.
In yesterday games played at the Kwese Premier League Final 8 in Kano, Niger Porters defeated Plateau Peaks 71-68, Gombe Bulls shocked Kano Pillars 83-80, Customs humbled Oluyole Warriors 77-47, while Hoops & Read owned by Olumide Oyedeji beat Atlantic Conference winner, Kwara Falcons 84- 79.
Today’s game Sept 5, 2017:
Porters v Falcons
Warriors v Gombe
Customs v Pillars
Plateau v Hoops