Erstwhile coach of the national basketball team, D’Tigers, Sani Ahmed, has said 2015 NBA winner, Festus Ezeli of Golden Gate Warriors, has shown interest in playing for Nigeria and urged the Nigeria Basketball Federation to expedite efforts to get him.
The Nigerian NBA star helped Golden Gate Warriors beat Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 to win their first NBA title in 40 years.
Ahmed, who led D’Tigers to qualify for the 2015 Afrobasket, told our correspondent on Wednesday that getting Ezeli to join the Nigerian team will greatly boost the morale of the national team players and improve the country’s chances in international tournaments.
He said, “I’m happy that the team that won the NBA title has Nigerians. We need them in D’Tigers. The moves to get NBA players, who are Nigerians to play for the country is still on course. I’ve been in contact with all of them. Ezeli’s agent is also a Nigerian; that is Ugo Udueze of the Islanders. They are always in support of what we are doing.
“Ezeli has already shown interest in playing for Nigeria. He doesn’t need anybody to push him. It will be great if we can make all the arrangements to get him for D’Tigers especially now that he has won the NBA title. His inclusion will really boost the morale of the team.”
The other Nigerian in the Warriors, Andre Iguodala, who was the NBA finals’ Most Valuable Player, had chosen to play for the US.
However, Ahmed said Iguodala can still change nationality and play for Nigeria if he wants to.
He added that getting Ezeli and other Nigerian NBA players to join D’Tigers now depends on the NBBF.
“Right now we have to wait for the NBBF to announce what their plans are before we know what steps to take. It all depends on the NBBF now. You know there is currently no coach for the team,” he said.