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NBA to help grow, strengthen Nigerian basketball ecosystem — Deputy Commissioner, Tatum

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Efforts to improve the game of basketball in Nigeria have received a big boost with the visit of National Basketball Association (NBA), Deputy Commissioner, Mark Tatum, to Lagos.

At the event heralding the NBA deputy commissioner’s trip to the country, the NBA executives reiterated their commitment to providing more boys and girls in Nigeria with opportunities to learn the fundamentals and core values of the game, and help grow and strengthen the Nigerian basketball ecosystem.

Present at the occasion were NBA Africa top hierarchy that include, Chief Executive Officer NBA Africa, Victor Williams; NBA Africa Vice President & Country Head of Nigeria, Gbemisola Abudu and, President, Basketball Africa League, Amadou Gallo Fall.

Speaking at the event, Tatum said that Nigeria is a country well endowed with vast talents as typified by the legend Hakeem Olajuwon and other Nigerians, who took the game of NBA Basketball in America by storm.

“While we just opened an office here this year, Nigeria has been an important market for the NBA for decades, dating back to when Hall of Famers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, hosted basketball clinics here in 1971.

“And you can’t overstate the incredible basketball talent from Nigeria and its impact on the league. From Hakeem Olajuwon, who was selected with the number one pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, to six Nigerian players on NBA rosters this season, to two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is of course of Nigerian descent.

“We opened an office in Lagos, because we believe there is enormous opportunity ahead for the NBA in Nigeria and the continued growth of basketball here can be a catalyst for the rest of the continent.

“We want to help accelerate the growth of basketball and help develop an environment in which, the Nigerian youth has a predictable pathway to learn the game and maximise their potential,” he said.

According to the NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head for Nigeria Gbemisola Abudu, “when we’re saying that we are investing in Nigeria, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re investing from a human capacity standpoint, making sure that our fans get to experience the NBA. It’s very significant and it shows our commitment to the country.”

While explaining the benefits of Tatum’s visit, the Chief Executive Officer, NBA Africa, Victor Williams, said, “The NBA Deputy Commissioner is here this week, along with a delegation of other NBA executives, and it speaks to our continued commitment to growing the game of basketball in Nigeria, strengthening the basketball ecosystem, connecting with our fans and building up the NBA brand and activities in Nigeria.

“Nigeria already makes a significant contribution to the NBA in terms of players, coaches, executives and leaders at all levels, so it is a really important and significant market for the NBA in Africa and we’re really pleased to be here this weekend to spend time in the country, meet with various stakeholders and to promote what the NBA is looking to do in Nigeria.”

To President, Basketball Africa League (BAL), Amadou Gallo Fall, “the second BAL season, broadcast in 215 countries and territories, featured 12 of the top club teams from across the continent and demonstrated how much talent and passion there is for basketball in Africa.

“We are excited about the momentum that we are seeing building across the continent as we prepare for another exciting season. Yesterday, FIBA Africa conducted the draw of the Road to the BAL’s Elite 16 qualifying tournament and we are looking forward to finding out which teams will compete in the BAL next year.”

“Nigeria has a rich basketball culture and tradition, and we are pleased that Nigerian teams can once again compete in international competitions.”