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Rivers Hoopers hoping to be the surprise team in Basketball Africa League

PORT HARCOURT (Nigeria) - The Basketball Africa League (BAL) holds a lot for teams and Nigerian side Rivers Hoopers are not left out.

The Hoopers, despite signing four top-flight players like Ugandan international Robinson Opong, AfroBasket winner with Nigeria Ben Uzoh, Chris Daniels and Taren Sullivan, head coach Ogoh Odaudu is living nothing to chance and is looking forward to being the surprise team of this inaugural edition of BAL.

Odaudu tells FIBA.basketball.com that his Rivers Hoopers team took their time to scout the new signings and remains hopeful that they blend into the rest of the squad.


"We have Chris Daniels who is a center and Taren Sullivan who is a small forward in addition to Ben Uzoh and Robinson Opong. Hopefully, they join us to perfect our game plan."

He also reveals that the team has enjoyed fair support so far since they started practice.

"We hope final approval will be given to enable us move to Lagos for final camping. With the new additions, we have made I would say we are prepared for the battle in Rwanda," the play-caller noted.

Though, Odaudu is reassured that his new signings will give his team the desired reinforcement, he is also convinced the rest of the squad will live up to expectations.

While not appearing scared of the opposition, Odaudu admits that he will approach every game not taking anything for granted.

"No team is a walkover at the level we are going to play. I am not scared of any team but I do have respect for all the teams at the tournament. Getting to this stage is no mean feat," he said.

"The stumbling blocks are the other 11 teams there. We will climb one block at a time hopefully succeed in climbing all 11 of them."

Odaudu points out that African basketball will likely witness a rise in fortunes with the coming of the NBA and hopes it would remain for a long time: "The level of club basketball in Africa will rise. With all the preparation being put in place for this inaugural edition, teams in Africa will double their efforts so as to make sure they make the list for the next edition. The competition will surely get stronger and more attractive."

No doubt the coronavirus pandemic slowed Rivers Hoopers following the postponement, Odaudu who is also the Nigeria men's team assistant coach, is positive that his side will give the country a good representation but hopes that the protocols would allow the team some scrimmages if possible.

"We are hoping to scrimmage with a couple of teams in the bubble before tip-off as BAL requirements don't allow us to play games or mingle with others from a certain period. So, hopefully, we get a couple of games or something while in the bubble if that is allowed too because it would be great," he explained.