On Tuesday, June 2, 2022 the International Basketball Federation [FIBA] had announced the decision to invite Mali to participate in the upcoming Womens Basketball World Cup scheduled to take place in Sydney, Australia in September this year, following the withdrawal of the Nigeria National team.
'This is Heartbreaking' - Ezinne Kalu expresses hurt on D'Tigress World Cup miss
The D'tigress star tells Pulse Sports of the team's disappointment on missing out on the FIBA Womens World Cup after President Buhari banned Nigeria from all basketball competitions
The official FIBA Twitter account announced that Nigeria will now be replaced by Mali - who are ironically, the very team they defeated to secure qualification in the first place.
FIBA had been earlier informed about the decision by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to ban the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) from all international basketball activities and competitions for two years on May 12, 2022.
The ban sanctioned by President Buhari was made known in a statement by Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development.
According to the Federal Government, the ban and withdrawal were a result of war lingering war by factions in NBBF, which has threatened the development of the game in the country.
Mali invited to replace Nigeria at FIBAWWC
Nigeria's loss has also now become Mali's gain after FIBA also confirmed that an invitation has been extended to Mali to feature at the World Cup as a replacement for Nigeria.
"Mali, as the next ranked team from Group B of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, is invited to participate in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022."
Ezinne Kalu reveals disappointment with recent developments
Reacting to FIBA's announcement on Thursday, June 2, 2022, Nigerian women basketball superstar, Ezinne Kalu had reacted via her official Twitter account expressing her displeasure with the latest developments.
“I mean..wow. I don’t think I will ever wear the green and white again” the experienced Point guard tweeted.
The 29-year-old D'tigress star has further expressed her disappointment with Nigeria missing out on the World Cup qualifiers.
''We are all very saddened and hurt by this news. 3 time defending champions, Olympic appearance, World Cup qualifier’s.. this is heartbreaking '', she tells Pulse Sports Nigeria.
While the news is certainly nothing to be happy about, Kalu and the rest of her teammates remain hopeful and positive, that the situation with Nigerian Basketball Federation can still be turned around, to enable the players compete and get back to doing what they love best for the National team as soon as possible.
"We are all very sad and upset and wish that something could be done about this'' she added.
Recall that there had been earlier pleas from the players for the government, to lift the ban and let them participate in the showpiece in Australia.
However, those requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears, as nothing was done until the FIBA deadline passed.