For most of the clubs in the Nigerian basketball leagues - Kwese Premier Basketball League and the Zenith Bank Women`s Basketball League - the season ends with the Championship game. But for the leagues` winners and runners up, it does not. The teams stand a chance to represent the country at the highest continental tournament for clubs - FIBA Africa Champions Cup (FIBA ACC) and FIBA Africa Champions Cup Women (FIBA ACCW) representively.
The Elephant Girls of First Bank and First Deepwater finished 1st and 2nd in the women`s league while Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls are the two top teams in the premier basketball league. However, they are not guaranteed spots on the continental tournament. They have to participate in the zonal qualifiers. For adminstrative purpose, the 54 member countries of FIBA Africa are group into 7 different zones with Nigeria falling under Zone. The qualifiers will be played in these different zones.
Nigeria will host the 2017 Zone 3 Qualifiers for the FIBA Africa Champions Cup and FIBA Africa Champions Cup for Women in Lagos from Oct 19-29. The qualifiers will feature 4 teams (2 men`s and 2 women`s) from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Cote D`Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Liberia.
First Bank has represented Nigeria in the continental tournament in the last 3 years and if the qualify from Zone 3 this year, it will be thier 16th appearance. For the men`s tournament, Kano Pillars have represented Nigeria at the FIBA ACC in the last two consecutive years and if they qualify from Zone 3 this year, it will be their 10th appearance at the continental championship.
The two teams have already commenced preparations to ensure they get available slots from Zone 3.
`One important thing is preparation and we don`t get to prepare very well because of funding. Last year, the country was in recession so it affected. But this year, things are better and we will perform better` - Matthew Onmonya, Kano Pillars captain.
As part of its post season preparation, Kano Pillars participated in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup; an invitational tournament in Malaysia
Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm
Qualifiers for Zone 5 and 7 have been concluded and the teams that booked a place in the continental tournament are as follows;
Fandrafiale (Madagascar) - Zone 7
Equity (Kenya) - Zone 5
UCU Lady Canons (Uganda) - Zone 5
City Oilers (Uganda) - Zone 5
ASCUT (Madagascar) - Zone 7
The FIBA ACCW will take place from November 3-12 Luanda Angola while the men`s tournament will be held in the Tunisian city of Rades from December 8-17.