All-Stars players of the Men's DStv/Basketball League on Tuesday threatened to embark on a peaceful demonstration for the payments of their 2013 All-Star Conference final played in September in Lagos. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the final was between two All-Stars teams of the Savannah and the Atlantic Conferences which signalled the end of the season.
The Atlantic All-Stars which narrowly defeated Savannah All-Stars 104-103 at the final won N1 million prize money, while Savannah won N500,000.
The players, however, told NAN in Lagos that up till now, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) had yet to redeem the prize money. "The federation has sidelined us and has refused to pay us our allowances," the players said. Hillary Aighokhaode of the Atlantic Conference said that it has been a waiting game for the money in which they were owed and something has to be done.
"It has been a waiting game, we have only heard promises and this is why we will embark on a peaceful demonstration before the coming jump-ball-date on Feb. 28," he said.
Obum Onyia also of the Atlantic said the situation was pathetic and that NBBF had completely forgot them. "NBBF has definitely paid the musicians that entertained them on that day and totally did not take the players seriously. "We are the players that played the game, how do we go about paying our rents and personal dues when we cannot receive what we are owed," Onyia said.
Azoma Dike who also starred for the Atlantic described the situation as unfair, adding that NBBF should consider them and pay what they owed them. "They keep promising and not fulfilling their promises, this is not fair. We are the ones that matter as regards the game, and hence, we should be treated fairly.
"I won the Most Valuable Player award and it goes with N250, 000 cash prize. "But till date, I have yet to receive the award and the allowances," he said.
Abubarkar Usman, who played in the Savannah team, said the NBBF should understand their plight as players and pay them. "We are imploring them to understand that we went through a lot to be in Lagos for the match, some of us borrowed money to be present for the match.
Timothy Kwanor of Savannah who won the Three-Point-Shot Award of N100,000 also expressed dissatisfaction and urged the NBBF to please consider them and pay them.
"The match was held since September last year, even if they are not yet ready, then they should communicate properly to us. They just left us chasing them," Kwanor said.
Contributing, Tony Thomas, an ex-player and member, Basketball Professional Association of Nigeria (BAPAN), said that the players were right to fight for their entitlements. "We had wanted to stage a lock-out sometimes last season due to many issues coming up, but the players said that they could cope with their challenges then.
"However, with this development and other issues which had been untouched for long, there is tendency for peaceful demonstration before the jump-ball-date.
"The federation needs to have the concerns of the players as their responsibilities, but in a situation when this does not happen then there is tendency to be a chaos," Thomas added. The players, however, did not disclose to NAN when they would stage the demonstration.