The referees and other officials who worked at the Ibadan Zonal Playoffs of the 2023 Nigeria Basketball Premier League’s Atlantic Conference left the venue disappointed on Saturday.
The officials left the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium venue of the competition without being paid their allowances and the feeding, transportation and accommodation subsidies they were entitled to.
The game officials had, on Friday, embarked on a strike to press home their demand for the payment after officiating for six days. But they were prevailed upon to change their mind after about an hour of pleas and an assurance given by the Oyo State Basketball Association.
However, they were yet to receive any payment by Saturday afternoon when the competition ended, with the officials returning to their bases in Oyo State, Ogun and Delta dejectedly.
”This is terrible and uninspiring. I am not happy at all, because I borrowed money to be here. Now, how do I pay back?” one of the officials said.
Another official, who asked not to be named, stated that the officials hoped that the organisers and the host state Basketball Association would keep to their words.
”The host Association people, as well as some team officials and players, pleaded with us not to abandon the matches.
”They said doing that would have harmed them and the game. But, everyone can now see that the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) people are not people you can take for their word,” the official said.
Bunmi Awosika, vice-chairman of the Oyo State Basketball Association, who was one of those who intervened to halt the game officials’ strike on Friday, had a piece of advice for the organisers.
He urged the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) always to ensure they put in place everything needed for competitions before their commencement.
“For example, there are still some uncertainties concerning the location of the next phase, and we understand this competition is going to begin on November 4.
”So, that means that once again, there is not enough time for preparations.
“All these time issues, as well as match officials’ allowances, should, therefore, have been settled earlier in the season so that everyone can make adequate preparations,” he said.
Kwara Falcons of Ilorin and Ebun Comets of Lagos on Saturday in Ibadan finished with 11 points each for both sides to qualify for the league’s next stage.
They qualified alongside Hoops and Read of Lagos and Oluyole Warriors of Ibadan after both sides finished with 10 points each.
All four teams have qualified for the next phase of the league, the Atlantic Conference finals, following a seven-day contest with seven teams participating.