Nigeria’s men basketball team coach Ayo Bakare yesterday lambasted the referees that officiated the match between the D’Tigers and Lithuania at the ongoing 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Nigerian team lost 72-53 to their east European opponents, who played a more spirited and co-ordinated game inside the 12,000 capacity Basketball Arena at the Olympic Park in London.
After winning their first match against Tunisia, the D’Tigers fumbled against a side they defeated 88-84 during the Olympics qualifying tournament in Venezuela last month.
A visibly disturbed Bakare accused the referees of bad officiating and bias in favour of Lithuania.
“This game was poorly officiated and unfortunately a couple of referees took it personal. Personally, I don’t like complaining about officiating but I think referees have to rise above ego, they have to rise above personalising things on court and I think one of the referees was particularly bias in his decisions. That is not to take anything from the great game Lithuania played. I don’t know if there was better officiating whether we would still have won, considering how well they played”, he said.
Bakare also bemoaned his side’s injury problems, saying it slowed down D’Tigers high-intensive style of play and rhythm during the game. He said the team badly missed key point-guard Ade Dagunduro, who picked an injury moments after he played for only three minutes inside the first quarter.
“We had difficulties with players’ fitness and we couldn’t rotate as many players as we suppose to. It wasn’t just Ade Dagunduro on the bench there are four guys who are not fit to play. Two or three of them wouldn’t step on the court at all so we have that to contend with and which is not easy to do.
“We are hoping Ade (Dagunduro) would be back, so also Ekene (Ibekwe) and others. We will see what the doctors do over the next couple of days. The injuries took a toll on the team, we have to pace ourselves more than we used to pacing ourselves.
“The injuries, the lack of depths because of our health issues hurt us very badly. But that aside, we think Lithuania played well to beat us today and we played badly to lose.
“But all these factors aside, we lost because we were shooting well. Technically, we didn’t do things well. So there are many things we need to work out on our side. First, we have to get healthy and try to get more people on the court.
“Second, we have to make shots and third we have to move the ball around. Overall I don’t want to hang it on the referees alone. We have to do our own parts well,” he added.