This is the first time in a very long time that the league will tip off later than April. So the announcement that the Kwese Premier Basketball League will tip off on Sunday, 6 May got basketball fans excited. However, the thought of the controversy that will follow the announcement and the tip off leaves a foul taste in our mouth.
The Umar-led board of the basketball federation organised the Teams Meeting and Technical Officials` Training Programme in Abuja on Thursday 26 April to usher in the new season. The tip off date was announced at the gathering. The Kida-led board on the same day unveiled multinational energy company - Total - as the headline sponsor of the Division 1 and 2 Championships. The 2018 Schedule - which included the Premier Basketball League expect to tip off also in May - was also presented.
Our nightmare has been confirmed - we will most likely have two male premier basketball leagues.
This would not be the first time. We witnessed something similar in 2016 when the African Basketball League was launched. This resulted in clubs choosing the league to associate with; and referees and officials getting banned. Going by the communique released by the Kida-led board warning clubs not to participate in the `illegal` league, the same will happen this year.
As we count down to the tip off of the Kwese Premier Basketball League, let us look at the clubs we should expect to participate and those that would probably not.
Who`s not playing?
If we are to go by their reaction to the crisis when it started last year and their decision not to participate in the 2017 Playoffs, we should not expect the trio of Rivers Hoopers, Mark Mentors and Civil Defenders to be a part of the league tipping off on Sunday 6th May.
Rivers Hoopers made it to the Conference Playoffs in Ilorin but did not show up for the Final Eight in Kano. The major factor responsible for Hoopers` absence has not change. In the almost certain event that the do not participate in the Kwese PBL this year, they would be replaced with Delta Force in the Atlantic Conference.
Who is playing?
Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls are league Champions and runner up of the Kwese PBL respectively and they represented the country at the continental competition for clubs - FIBA Africa Champions Cup. Kano Pillars will participate in the league in an attempt to defend its title. We expect other Savannah Conference clubs to follow suit.
A number of clubs in the Atlantic Conference have their key representatives as members of the Umar-led board of the basketball federation. These include Hoops & Read (Olumide Oyedeji - President), Kwara Falcons (Dr Adeyemo - Chairman, Kwara Basketball Association) and Customs (Scott Nnaji - Head Coach). The will certainly play in the league tipping off on this Sunday.
The Other League
In the communique released by the Kida-led board, clubs were warned not participate in what it tagged `an invitational tournament`. However, the communique did not specify when its Premier Basketball League will tip off. Whenever that is, we may see the likes of Rivers Hoopers, Lagos Warriors, Lagos Islanders (hopefully) and (maybe) Lagos City Stars, Eko Kings etc. headline the league.
Dear FIBA, the crisis is not over yet.