Kano Pillars head coach Sani Ahmed considers the outgone 2017 Kwese Premier Basketball League season the best of his career.
Kano Pillars claimed a back to back title on home court this month beating arc rivals Gombe Bulls in the final.
Ahmed a seven-time champion with Pillars, told aclsports the prize money propelled them to win despite not having two of his best players who were on national assignment.
” I was very happy we able to defend our title despite not having two of our best players, Azuoma Dike and Yahaya Abdulwahab, I really misss them. If they were there, we won’t have lost against Gombe Bulls in the group stage but I am happy we were able to beat them by 20 points in the final match,”he said.
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Pillars took home N20 million,Gombe Bulls won N15 million while N10 million was given to Hoops and Read for their third place win over Kwara Falcons.
“The prize money was a good one for the league. It will also boost the image of the league and also encourage the players to do more. After it was announced at the semi-finals, we all told ourselves we can’t lose this game. It was a full gym in the final, we had support from our fans and it really helped us.”
The former assistant coach of the D’Tigers said having two factions in the NBBF almost affected the smooth running of the league finals. He however applauded the three other semi-finalists at the final eight tournament.
“We had itches everywhere because of the two factions in the NBBF and its not good for basketball development in Nigeria. I think the league has improved and the teams played better than last year. Tijani Umar-led faction gave support to the teams, I think there was improvement.”
“I was impressed with Hoops and Read, they were so good, they had confidence, played very well like a team. There was no superstar in the team, its better to play that way than to play individual game. They played against Kwara Falcons who were also a very good team , we had Gombe Bulls , it was an exciting tournament.”
Rivers Hoopers one of the best teams in the Atlantic Conference failed to make it to the final eight tournament, Ahmed believes the Port Harcourt club would have made it to the top three if they had not been entangled in the politics played by the two factions.
“Everyone missed Hoopers because they would have done well. I didn’t see them play during regular season but from the stat this season, results, definitely they had a chance of winning, there is no way they wont have been first , second or third. Unfortunately, it happned the way it did and they couldn’t come which is not good for the development of the game. Our administrators should seperate the players from politics because that’s where they earn a living. Missing out on the final tournament means they would have missed allowances and chances of winning the title. Our administrators should leave the technical crew and players out of the politics,” he reiterated.
It has been rumoured that the Musa Kida-led faction intend selecting their candidates for the continental championship with the believe that theirs will be accepted by FIBA. You will recall that FIBA chose to communicate with the Kida faction till November 30 when all internal wragglings must have been resolved. The two finalists from the final eight tournament represent the country at the continent championship.
“I have not heard that but FIBA is aware of the league in Nigeria so definitely they wont say the teams that qualified will not be recognized but how would they bring teams together to represent Nigeria? Is it by selecting some teams to play a two or three days tournament and then choose? Definitely it is not the right way to go about it. Though when Musa Kida was inaugurated by the minister, he came out to say that the league should continue. He allowed the females and didn’t allow the male league to finish. I think its double standard,”Ahmed stated.
Pillars participated in a tournament after their title defense and Ahmed disclosed that it was organised to expose the team.
“It was very interesting and it was an eye opener for my players because the teams we met were big teams with NBA players from Tokyo, China, Japan, Korea and Russia. I think it was a good experience for my players. Though we lost all four matches played, we didn’t go with three of our best players, two were on national duty while the other one, Ndabu had issues with his family and had to stay back. We went there with only ten players.”