The instinctive decision of Mr Masai Ujiri (GM of Toronto Raptors) paid off.
At some point, few members of the management board including players were skeptical about the GM's decision to fire head Coach Dwane Casey, hire his assistant(Nick Nurse) and trade De Rozan (a very popular player then) for Kawhi Leonard.
It was a tough decision, the type that puts your job on the line but Masai stood his ground as a dogged leader that is committed to excellence.
As the season unfolds everyone started seeing the big picture that the GM saw at the beginning of the season.
Masai Ujiri led Raptors, finished 2nd at the end of 2019 regular season, proceed to the playoffs, became the Eastern Conference Champions and sealed a spot at the NBA finals for the first time in the history of the team.
Africans and Nigerians are proud of Massi's achievements. He is an inspiration to many on the continent. We wish Him and the Raptors a wonderful outing at the 2019 NBA finals.
Talent can not be overlooked.
Recently, Benjamin Inetanbor who currently resides at North Carolina, USA, got into his niche of painting.
Born in Nyanya, Abuja, Nigeria, Benjamin lived in a small town called Jikwoyi, with his parents and five siblings. He grew up in an artistic home.
"My father was a welder, and my mom a choir member at the AG ministry. My brother Imonitie is an architect and my sister a make up artist/fashion designer."
Benjamin's family lineage hail from the Benin Kingdom, Edo state, Nigeria.
"I guess you could say we got this gene from our ancestors, who were known for their great works of art throughout history. Everyone in my family, before moving to a different thing did something related to fine art."
For a very long time, it seemed Benjamin took a leave on his art side, for sports.
"As for me, I never took interest in any of the fine or visual art. I was always interested in sports like; Basketball, track & field, and Soccer, but for some reason, I knew I was so much more than just sports."
Few years into the learning the game of basketball under the guidance of Andre Achebe (Head coach of Titans Basketball Academy), Benjamin got a student-athlete scholarship to study in the USA.
"For a while back home in Nigeria, I was not academically sound, but for the love of the game of basketball, I had to step up my grades, else my coach wouldn't let me on the court. This helped me a lot; I train my mind and body daily."
Benjamin's awakening manifested, after his change of environment.
"Reaching the USA, I began developing interest in art; mostly visual art. It was as if everything I missed out on my childhood days were all piled up into one. The feeling, peacefulness, history, and expression all had me mesmerized."
"I only started painting for six months, and I have painted two portraits; one of which I sold to my teacher for $100, one landscape and three abstract expressions in only three months."
In all, Benjamin seeks opportunity to fulfill his dream in getting degrees in art and anatomy.
"I want to finish my education in the USA. I would like to get a degree in Anatomy and also Bachelor's degree in art and design. This is my goal."
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has congratulated Kingsley Ojeaburu over his recent nomination by the Federation of International Basketball Federation ahead of the 2019 Men’s World Cup in China and the U-19 WC in Greece.
The federation through its President, Engr. Musa Kida said the recent recognition to officiate on the biggest global basketball stage bears witness to the growing stature of the game in Nigeria.
“It’s going to be an exciting World Cup affair with Nigeria technically presenting 2 teams. Apart from the D’Tigers competing at the world stage for a chance to win the coveted trophy, all eyes will also be on Kingsley Ojeaburu who will be officiating at the World Cup for the first time”, Kida said
Kida described the opportunity as a perfect window for Ojeaburu to make a case for Nigerian referees by being a good ambassador.
“Ojeaburu will not just be going to the World Cup as a FIBA referee, he will also be representing and making a case for the referees back home. As one of the best referees we have in Nigeria, we trust that he will maintain his high level of professionalism which has continued to see him grow.
The NBBF President said with the constant training and refresher courses being put in place for Nigerian referees, more referees will soon take centre stage on the international stage.
Ojeaburu began his referee career in 1994 and became a FIBA certified referee in 2005 in Abidjan.
Since then, he has gone to officiate at the 2014 Afrobasket Championship in Cote d’Ivoire where he got nominated for his first ever FIBA World Cup in Spain before featuring at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
2019 FIBA World Cup preparation:
In its quest to adequately prepare the D’Tigers for the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup, the Nigeria Basketball Federation has lined up multiple grade A friendlies against Dominican Republic and Canada ahead of the World Cup.
D’Tigers two legged encounter against Dominican Republic will take place in Santo Domingo between July 19th and 25th before playing Canada in Quebec and Ontario between August 5th and 11th 2019.
According to arrangements put in place for the team, D’Tigers will open camp in the United States of America before moving to Canada.
Lagos, Nigeria will be venue of the final phase of preparation with NBBF already in advanced talks with a yet to be named World Cup bound team for a 2-legged friendly.
NBBF President, Engr. Musa Kida disclosed that the federation is determined to give the team the best preparation that it can afford to ensure that the team does the nation proud in China when the World cup starts on the 31st of August.
“We have locked down 2 grade A games with Dominican Republic and Canada who will both be at the World Cup. These games alongside those we are still planning to organize when the team comes to Lagos, we believe, will provide quality tests for the team.”
Kida revealed that though the choices of camp sites in the USA and Canada have not been made due to factors such as quality of facilities, playing personnel and most importantly funds, agreements have been concluded with the Canadian and Dominican Republic Basketball Federations for the games.
Meanwhile, the team is also billed to participate in a friendly tournament featuring some teams that will take part in the mundial in China between 21st and 26th of August.
The team coached by Alex Nwora is drawn in Group B alongside Argentina, Russia and Korea with all its group games to be played in Wuhan. The 2019 FIBA World Cup will take place between August 30th of and 16th of September 2019