Toronto Raptors of Canada basketball club president, Masai Ujiri has opined that the presence of poor and substandard facilities as well as lack of quality equipment are preventing accelerated growth of the giants’ game in Nigeria .
Ujiri, who recently led Raptors to become the first team outside USA to win USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA) title, as his Canada-based side shocked Golden State Warriors in the 2019 Finals, said during a chat with journalists in Lagos that Nigeria’s talents need better exposure.
He added during the parley, tagged ‘Meet and Greet with Masai Ujiri’ last weekend at Lagos National Stadium, that Nigeria and other African countries have to adopt modern ideas towards discovering, grooming and promoting talents in the slam-dunk-game.
He went on to disclose that lack of facilities have prevented him and top technocrats of the NBA from hosting a major game in Nigeria, as they see better conditions in South Africa, while Rwanda and Senegal have also stepped up into the realm of countries with good terrains.
Ujiri posited: “We don’t have to go to South Africa every year to play the game of basketball we now have a newly built arena in Kigali and Dakar.
“A lot of people have asked why we have not brought the NBA game to Nigeria. Do you think I don’t want to bring the Raptors to Nigeria?
“I’ll bring the Raptors to Nigeria tomorrow but where are we going to play tell me where so that’s the challenge we face.
“We have to make that progress however we do it or push it. We have to form a movement that changes things not only in this country but in this continent because kids, talents are wasting in this country.
“Do you know how many Serena Williams are walking around Nigeria and never play tennis, or how many Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and they never touch a ball because there are no facilities?
“We have this abundant talent in our country and continent. We have to do the right thing in Africa now not this come tomorrow or so and do other times doesn’t help us.
“I wasn’t very good but very privileged. I wasn’t the best professional player or college player or the best national team player.
“The experience I had playing in Dakar 1997 I will never ever change that for anything. It affected my life in an incredible way.
“I’ll always cherish those moments wearing the Nigerian jersey and also coaching the national team. It was very short lived but I made the best out of it.”