While Nigeria commences full preparations for the 2021 Afrobasket qualifiers slated to hold in Kigali, Rwanda, from November 27-29, 2020, Casademont Zaragoza of the Liga ACB, Spain star, Rasheed Sulaimon, who was listed by coach Mike Brown for the qualifiers have been ruled out with a torn muscle in his left abdomen and a leg injury.
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Sulaimon, 26, was hoping to make his debut for the African basketball powerhouse in Rwanda and has been pivotal in his club’s impressive run in the Euro League which has seen them team top Group D of the competition after two games. The Nigerian who is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks expressed his disappointment at the turn of events.
‘This is so disappointing for me, as I would have loved to join the team for the qualifiers and play my part. I was looking forward to my debut for Nigeria but that will have to be put off till another time. Right now, I am staying positive and focusing on recovering from the injury and coming back stronger and better. Athletes will always get injured, but how you react to these setbacks sets you apart.’
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Meanwhile, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has announced that the camp of D’Tigers will open for final preparations on Monday, November 23, in Kigali ahead of their first game in the tournament. The Secretary-General of the NBBF, Afolabi-Oluwayemi Olabisi, while disclosing plans of the team in Abuja, revealed that the players are expected to fly into Kigali early.
Commenting on the short duration of camping ahead of the tournament, President of the NBBF, Musa Kida, stated that the federation would have loved a longer camping duration because it would allow the team to blend better under the new coach, Mike Brown, but prevailing conditions ranging from the active involvement of some of the players in their European clubs Euro League campaign, and the financial constraints on the part of the federation meant they had to settle for just four days ahead of Nigeria’s first game in Kigali.
‘Longer camping period would have been the best option for the team. It would have enabled the boys to have enough time to blend under Coach Mike Brown. Some of the players are preparing for the new season with their clubs while some are actively involved in the Euro League, so we cannot snatch them away for long… We have to be honest with ourselves as a federation. Funding is a key determinant for most of our plans and programs. According to the popular saying, cut your coat according to your size, but for us at the federation, it is cutting our cost according to our cloth.’
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