Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu says a tough challenge awaits his wards in the DSTV Basketball League Finals when all qualified teams slug it out in Lagos next week.
The two-time champions qualified alongside Atlantic Conference winners Kwara Falcons, Nigeria Customs and Oluyole Warriors from the Atlantic Conference while former champions Kano Pillars, Gombe Bulls, Plateau Peaks and Niger Potters will host the Savannah Conference flag.
Odaudu, a former Nigeria international is nonetheless optimistic his side will give a good account of themselves.
“Considering the fact that we just got off from relegation, this is the first season and we are now playing against two podium finishers last season. It is going to be very difficult,” Odaudu said as a background.
“It is going to be an uphill task but just like I always say, we are not going to go to Lagos just to go and participate.
“We are going go to Lagos and we are going to compete.” he said.
Hoopers have been placed in Group B which has Kano Pillars, Gombe Bulls and Oluyole Warriors while Group A comprises of Kwara Falcons, Nigeria Customs, Plateau Peaks and Niger Potters.
Despite the apparent strength of the two teams from the Savannah Conference in Group B, the Benue-born tactician disclosed his preference and thinks his side can progress beyond the group stage.
“Perfectly, I prefer the group that I am right now because in group A, you are going to qualify for the semi-finals but you are going to meet either of Kano or Gombe Bulls in the semi-finals and by that time, they would have played two or three games. It is better to play them now than to play them in the semi-final stages.” Odaudu explained.
He has however set a minimum target of a podium finish for his side at the end of the final play offs of this season’s DSTV Baskeball League.
“We hope to come first, second or third, that is what our target is,” he confidently asserted.
“Basketball is not played on paper. We can as well say we are going to win the final but when we get there, we cannot tell what will happen.”he concluded.
Hoopers will open their Finals campaign on Monday against Gombe Bulls at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.