According to Juventus and Italy goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon – I took what I’ve been given, and I got where I did on the basis of something that is often undervalued – merit. So can be said of Ogoh Odaudu who just got appointed as one of the assistant coaches of the senior men’s national team, D’Tigers on Thursday.
The Musa Kida-led faction of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) made slight changes to the coaching crew of the senior men and women’s national teams and Odaudu alongside Dominic Okon replaced Abdulrahman Mohammed and Adewunmi Aderemi of Gombe Bulls and Ahip Giants basketball club respectively.
Many will argue his appointment comes as compensation for his team, Rivers Hoopers, stopped from attending the final 8 last year and participating in the ongoing Kwese Premier Basketball League because of their affiliation with the Rivers State Basketball Association chairman, Musa Kida. Odaudu debunked this notion saying it was a deserved appointment.
“I don’t think it is a compensation. Why should I be the only one singled out to be compensated? What about the players? Will they all be invited to the national team too as compensation? I don’t think so. And if it’s compensation you are actually saying I don’t deserve to be on the national team as an assistant coach.
I think I merit it and I was not there at their meetings when decisions were made. Changing a coaching crew is normal in sports especially in the national team. Coaches and players come and go. I may be here today doesn’t mean I’ll be here tomorrow.
The Rivers Hoopers head coach expressed happiness at his recent appointment which he said came as a surprise.
“I feel very honoured I feel very grateful to God. I am very happy for this appointment given to me. It’s the ultimate aim of every coach just like it’s the ultimate aim of every player to play in the national team. It’s also a dream of every coach be on the coaching crew of the national team. I am very very honoured,” he told ACLSports.
“It came as a surprise to me not that I didn’t merit it but I didn’t think there were going to be changes in the coaching crew now. It was a pleasant surprise.”
Odaudu played for Zuma Rocks of Abuja before moving to Dodan Warriors and later to Ebun Comets. He was a member of the D’Tigers’ silver medal-winning team at the 2003 FIBA Afrobasket in Egypt.
The experienced coach has also had stints with Lagos Islanders Basketball Club (2003) before moving to Royal Hoopers (now Rivers Hoopers) of Port Harcourt. He led the team to national league glory in two consecutive seasons, 2011 and 2012 and finished second and third in 2010 and 2016 respectively.
The ex- international narrowly missed out on the assistant coaching job last year as the teams with the highest win rate and conference leaders ( Kwara Falcons, Gombe Bulls) had their coaches appointed. Though Odaudu felt unhappy when Falcons leapfrogged him on the Atlantic Conference table following their 71-69 loss to Hoops & Read on August 3, 2017 in Lagos, he knew it was for the best.
“God has a reason making such things happen. We were tied on points, same level with Kwara Falcons because we were beaten in one game that was how coach Aderemi’s team over took Hoopers and went on top. May be it was not my time to be on the crew so I don’t look at it as a disappointment.”
Before Aderemi’s move to Ahip this season, his contract with Falcons was terminated because of his assignment with the national team. https://aclsports.com/8402-2/. Odaudu believes his case will be different and the national team job is a reward for the hard work done at your club.
“The decision to drop Aderemi from his club side was not good. It is a thing of joy to have your coach in the national team because of the good job done. May be he (Aderemi) didn’t have capable assistants or they (the club) don’t trust his assistants.
With the kind of structure we have in Hoopers even if I am around or not, they will do what they are supposed to do. Of course I’ll be missed but not that much. Coach Abdullrahman was not with his team at the final 8 last year but they made it to the final. That’s the kind of structure in place for Rivers Hoopers and we will continue that way.”
The Benue-born coach will be making his second stint with the national team. He worked with three others as an assistant under Ayo Bakare in 2013 at the cup of nations in Cote’d voire. Sani Ahmed of Kano Pillars, Abdulrahman Mohammed of Gombe Bulls and Ayinla Johnson former Lagos Stallions coach. He also worked at the junior level as an assistant at the U-18 tournament in Rwanda and U-16 in Mali.
Odaudu is ready to maximize the opportunity given to him while expecting criticisms from Nigerians just like they have done to previous coaches.
“Criticisms will come but you have to develop a thick skin. No matter what happens those critics will still be there. It pulls some coaches down while others it pushes them to do more. For me it’s a push, criticisms make me go back to have a rethink and work on it to come out better. Like I followed the team’s games from the Afrobasket, to the World Cup Qualifiers, Commonwealth Games my observations will be put across to the coach hopefully we will work on it.”
Ahead of the next FIBA window on June 27- July 1, Odaudu expects a good outing when Nigeria host Group B 2019 World Cup African Qualifiers in Lagos.
“Nothing will be different in June. It was a clean sweep for us in February. Lots of players will be available so we have options to pick from. This will give the Nigerian fans the opportunity to watch the senior team play in front of their crowd.
It has not happened in a very long time because we usually go out for championship. It’s a big opportunity to play a major tournament at home. It’s going to be a great experience and we pray we have the full support of Nigerians.”
Odaudu never went to the senior World Cup during his playing days except the U-18 World Championship in 1990 in Portugal. He sees it as a great opportunity to be at the 2019 World Cup in China with the 2015 Afrobasket champions.