The national basketball team D’Tigers have raised the alarm over expectations from Nigerians as they get set to begin their campaign in the London 2012 Olympics.
The coach of the team Ayo Bakare told The PUNCH that while Nigerians have tremendously identified with the team and their achievement in Venezuela, their level of demand has shot high above expectation.
“But what they are asking for has not come as any surprise to me,” Bakare said in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, “It is surely one of the many ways of Nigerians.
“Now nobody is asking simply to go to the Olympics and do well; put up a very credible representation of the country. The first major thing we hear in every conversation now is to win gold.
“The only surprise is that the same demand for gold medal is also coming from even those that protested that we were going to Venezuela to waste public funds before we left Lagos.
“Even while there, especially after our first game, they were still sure the government made great error by allowing us to participate. And then within one week of being a wasteful, inexperienced and unexposed bunch we are now gold medal potential.”
Bakare, who runs the Ebun Comets club in Nigeria, said that they would feature in the Olympics with the same attitude that gave them the ticket.
“We take every game one by one and see how it goes. The other teams would love to win medals and that is how we feel too.”
The captain of the team Olumide Oyedeji said the players are very much aware of the enthusiasm their performance in Caracas has generated amongst Nigerians but advised fans not to aim too high.
He said, “Our expectation is that we make it beyond the first round. We are determined to fight for the top 8 spot; I believe that we have the ability to make it beyond Group A. This is basketball as anything can happen and any team can be beaten. We will try our possible best and use our strength to our advantage and work more and more on our weaknesses.”
Nigerian Tigers will take on Tunisia in the opening match when the jump ball is taken for the London Olympics on July 28.
In Group A are Lithuania, Tunisia, USA, France, Nigeria and Argentina. Group B has Asian champions China, Great Britain, Brazil, Australia, Russia and Spain.
The top teams will qualify from each group.