Nigeria’s former senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki was a big surprise guest at the training base of Canada-based National Basketball Association (NBA) club, Toronto Raptors, just before they went away to Golden State Warriors for Game 6 of the league finals.
Senator Saraki, who bowed out of office earlier in the week, after a four-year spell as the head of Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber, had the pleasure of being received by a compatriot, ex-basketball star, Masai Ujiri, who is now club president of The Raptors.
During the visit, Ujiri took Saraki on the tour of the facilities and the ex-number three citizen in Nigeria, who has a football club named after him in the domestic league, Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC of Ilorin, said he was truly amazed at what he saw on offer.
The former Kwara State governor had the honour of seeing Raptors’ facilities up close few hours before the team became NBA champions for the first time in their history, taking the title up north, across America’s border into Canada for the first time by any club as well.
Saraki was proud to be among the rare few who enjoyed the hallowed halls of Oracle Arena, before the floors were flooded by the smell of champagne with red eyes, joyful yells and long sighs of relief after The Raptors closed out The Warriors with a tense 114-110 victory in Game 6.
He had the pleasure of hobnobbing with Ujiri, before The Raptors’ present joined his lads, led by Serge Ibaka, carrying the Larry O’Brien trophy like a newborn baby up the Oracle tunnel and assistant coach Patrick Mutombo having everyone sign his soaked shirt in celebration.
Dramatically, while revealing a hint of his visit to Toronto on social media, Saraki ended with a word that turned out to be very symbolic of the celebrations that eventually trailed their conquest of the NBA Finals, following victory over Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
Saraki stated: “It was a pleasure to spend some time at the Toronto Raptors training facility and meet with Masai Ujiri, the Nigerian-born President of the organisation. What a state of the art facility! Congratulations.”