For clubs playing in the leagues organised by country's
National Basketball Federations in Africa, the highest achievement is winning
the FIBA Africa Champions Cup. The Champions Cup (both Men and Women's) is an
annual event that features top teams from member countries.
To participate in the Championship, representatives of each member country need to play in a Zonal Qualifier. Since Nigeria is grouped in Zone 3 along with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote DIvoire, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, and Togo; our top clubs participate in the Zone 3 Champions Cup qualifiers.
This year's zonal competition, hosted by the Togolese Basketball Federation, tipped off on Saturday 22 October in capital city Lome, featuring 9 teams (6 male&3 female) from 4 countries - Togo, Niger, Benin Republic and Nigeria. This is similar to last year's qualifiers where only 10 teams from 4 countries participated.
Nigeria is represented by Kano Pillars, Customs
and First Bank. Runners - up of the Zenith Bank Women's Basketball League -
Dolphins - did not participate. We understand that most of their key players
left the club - either to further their studies or to other clubs - and the
team could not put a proper team together in time for the qualifiers.
Nigeria Customs Basketball Team. Image Cred - Titans
The teams will play against other group teams in a
round robin format with the top two teams qualifying for the Champions Cup
scheduled to hold in Egypt later this year. The male team have played one game
each so far with Kano Pillars defeating Benin Republic's Elan Sportif while
Customs lost to ASPAC from Benin. The Elephant Girls of First Bank had an
impressive outing with 76 - 43 victory against Togo's Etoile Filante.
Customs and Kano Pillars are scheduled to play their second group games later this afternoon against Elan Sportif and Modele (Togo) respectively.
Last year, Nigeria teams clinched all four slots at the zonal qualifiers. Can they repeat the same feat this year?