Rivers Hoopers have qualified to represent Nigeria in the Basketball Africa League’s second season after winning the country’s Super 8 tournament.
The Kingsmen dominated their opponents, going 5-0 in the Super 8 to go along with their 8-0 record in the first phase of the domestic competition earlier this year.
The local league champions from Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tunisia will automatically qualify for the BAL, while the remaining six teams will compete in an Elite 16 competition.
The Hoopers’ final victory came against fierce rivals Gombe Bulls, with a 74-57 score reflecting the Hoopers’ superiority over other teams in the country. Hoopers’ winning streak in the Nigerian league now stands at 25 games, dating all the way back to 2017.
Going to the BAL, on the other hand, isn’t a foregone conclusion. Not for the time being, however.
Basketball in Nigeria is still in a state of turmoil. The NBBF board, led by Musa Kida, reached the end of its term this year, and the Nigerian Sports Ministry took the unusual action of dissolving the board and appointing Kida as the interim chairman.
The ministry dissolved that body as well, ordering it to hand over its responsibilities to a Task Force under the minister’s office, a decision Kida challenged before FIBA.
The NBBF’s affairs must be managed by the disbanded board until elections are held, according to FIBA.
The Task Force, on the other hand, formed the Super 8 tournament, which Kida denounced, warning teams that only a nomination from the FIBA-recognized NBBF would be accepted for participation in the BAL.
He went on to say that the NBBF may host another tournament: “We are not prohibiting any team from competing in any competition, regardless of location. We’ve always wanted more games for our players, and we urge them to participate in any competition that would help them prepare for the Final 8.”
According to reports, a combination of financial concerns and a possible agreement between Kida and the ministry could result in Hoopers being presented as Nigeria’s representatives anyway.
Meanwhile, the Kingsmen will celebrate their victory and plot their return to the BAL.