As the central board of world basketball governing body, FIBA, meets in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday to decide which countries get the four wild cards for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the basketball community in the country is anxiously waiting to know Nigeria's fate.
The Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) along with 15 other federations met the October 30, 2013 deadline for the submission of bids for the wild cards for their national teams. NBBF President, Tijanni Umar, said in Abuja yesterday that he expects Nigeria to be among the successful bids.
He stressed that Nigeria's basketball would be greatly honoured to be the first African team to bag a wild card to the World Cup. D'Tigers failed to qualify directly at the 2013 Afrobasket championship in Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire, which served as qualifiers for the basketball showpiece.
Umar argued that the national male team failed "largely due to a depleted roster caused by major injuries."
Still advancing reasons why Nigeria should get a wild card for the World Cup, the NBBF president said, "Our team has a pool of sustainable talent in some of the best basketball leagues around the world that can perform and compete against the best at the highest levels of the game.
Asked how competitive he expects the Nigerian team to be and whether he is confident the team will feature all its leading/best players, Umar retorted, "If given a wild card, our team will present its best-ever roster for maximum impact and our team captain has written a commitment letter on behalf of his colleagues which is enclosed in our bid document."
The countries jostling for the four available wild cards alongside Nigeria (ranked 18 in the world) are, Bosnia-Herzegovina (57), Brazil (10), Canada (25), China (12), Finland (39), Germany (14), Greece (5), Israel (37), Italy (21), Poland (40), Qatar (42), Russia (6), Turkey (7) and Venezuela (28).