The annual RadarHoop Top 50 Camp, which began at the National Stadium, Lagos on Sunday, rounded up yesterday at the same venue.
The specialised camp for talented young Nigerian players and organised by Masai Ujiri and Godwin Owinje not only drilled the young players to the best of basketball but also saw the young men practice with the Junior Tigers who are set to travel to Egypt tomorrow for the African Junior Men’s Championship of which Nigeria is the defending champion.
Yesterday, the Top 10 players from this camp tested their skills against the Nigerian players that made the trip to South Africa last month for the NBA/FIBA Basketball Without Borders (BWB) programme. The Nigerian BWB Players were adjudged by the camp experts to have done excellently well.
The 50 young players assembled from across Nigeria worked with about eight foreign coaches who arrived in the country from the United States and Europe on Saturday. The foreigners worked alongside 10 specialist Nigerian coaches from various national programmes ranging from the Nestle Milo events to the Under-16, U18 and U19 national teams.
The camp run by the former Nigerian internationals was holding in the fifth year since the first schedule held at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“This programme has is not about taking people to America; indeed Nigerian basketball has grown far beyond that. The aim of the project is to develop young Nigerians to play good basketball like their counterparts in any part of the country and as well prepare mentally for any other discipline in life.
“There is no good basketball player that does not leave Nigeria for bigger leagues and schools. And so if these kids concentrate, work hard and develop themselves according people will always come in here to pick them,” said Masai.
But we have to help prepare them positively and that is why we have all come down here to work.
“And so we sincerely hope that things will work out well for the kids and all of us involved with the camp,” Masai said.
The first day of Sunday started with an evaluation process, and then players were put into teams by the coordinators. These teams spent the remaining part of the day and the following two days working together in games and stations.
As in the past years, the 2008 edition was done in conjunction with the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF). International sports company Nike was introduced as a new partner for equipment while Nestle Milo who has been a sponsor with the project in past three years reiterated their desire to maintain the good relationship.
By Pius Ayinor of Basketball in Africa