The captain of Nigeria’s national basketball team (D’Tigers), Olumide Oyedeji has said the team will be gunning for the medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later in the year.
“This time around, we want to be a medal contender. We don’t just want to be a participant. We don’t want to be pushovers. We want to be a team that will go there to vie for medals,” the powerful Centre stressed.
He noted that the team will be full of confidence going into the Games, pointing out that: “we made history going to the Olympics in 2012 because we were the first African team that ever made it from OQT; we are the first African team to knock down Number 3 team in the world, Number 4 team in the world.”
The Olympian said the team will only need to put in more efforts, be better organized and prepared to make more impact this time.
Oyedeji however hinted that the team will not be converging in camp earlier than June as the players are all busy playing for their respective clubs.
“You have to understand that basketball season starts from August and finishes in June. So, everybody is occupied, everybody is playing for their teams now except the government is going to pull them out of their job and pay them.”
On his own part, Team Coach, Viogt William said he was already in discussion with the government concerning the team’s participation in the Olympics, expressing confidence that the team’s needs will be met in due time.
“We had some success spending time in different places leading to the African championship and I think it would be a similar arrangement. Obviously, we are going to have some presence here in Nigeria but it is also important that we play against many quality nations leading up to Olympics.”
He said the players who won the FIBA Africa in Tunisia will be looked at first but insisted that the team’s door will be opened to other Nigerian players doing well in their respective clubs both in Nigeria and abroad.
“When it comes to the time to make a decision, the decision is always made on who we feel will present the best opportunity for us to win, William said. “As much as we love the group that we had, if there is one additional player that makes us better, then we will certainly going to take a look at him.”