The Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, His Excellency, Ken Nwachukwu visited the D’Tigress team housed at the Olympe Hotel at about 12noon (local time) ahead of their first group game later today.
Ambassador Nwachukwu said the visit before their must win Group B opener against Mozambique was a way of boosting the morale of the team and showing that the Federal Government of Nigeria cares about its citizens everywhere in the world.
According to him, meeting for the first time during the game would be inappropriate, hence the need to come see the team before their first game.
In his remarks, the ambassador promised 100% support for the team during their stay in Mali for the Afrobasket tournament while promising to do everything possible to make their campaign memorable.
“Your mission here is our mission, we are here for you. One of the basic problems Nigerians have when they travel is food. They always want to swallow. We will partner with you in terms of feeding and we are ready to interface with you on any issue. We are happy to see you. It’s always a thing of joy to have our people come around and to have a feel of home.”
While wishing the team the best of luck ahead of their opening game, he promised to have another meeting with the players who were away for training before their game later in the day.
“We want to wish you luck. We are going to be at the opening ceremony by 5pm and also be on ground to see the team play against Mozambique at 9pm.”
According to him, the only pathway to a successful outing remains good preparation and hard work by the players and their coaches.
“You win based on a number of things. How prepared you are and how much you are able to perfect your strategies. You are going to have some very keen competition from the usual suspects, the Angolans, Senegalese and Egyptians, but I have also noticed that we are beginning to pull away from some of them, which is very good.”
In his response, the Vice President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Babatunde Ogunade lauded the presence of
some staff of the embassy at the airport to welcome and facilitate their movement upon arrival.
He thanked the ambassador for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the team which he feels will motivate the team to go all out against their opponents.
Explaining to the ambassador why he did not meet the coaching crew and the players, Ogunade said: “We had planned that after their practice and customary photo shoot, we would come over to your place but the organisers again changed our practise time to 11am (local time). We needed to practise at the venue and have a feel of the ground before we have a match that was why you did not meet them here (hotel).
He assured that, “Once we get the proper schedule, we must come to the embassy to come and see you.”