Players and officials of Markmentors, former champions of DStv Men’s Premier Basketball League, yesterday, narrowly escaped death by whiskers after they were attacked by angry fans during a match with Niger Potters in Minna, the Niger State capital.
It was gathered that the Otukpo lads were leading the host team 48 to 42 when the visibly angry and disappointed fans descended on their cameraman, Jimoh Momoh and threw him off the spectators’ stand at the College of Education, Minna.
A source hinted our reporter that the fans reportedly launched the attack on the players just six seconds to the end of 3rd quarters during free throw in favour of Markmentors.
He said, “Fans of Niger Potters who were sent off the court decided unleash their anger and frustration on the Markmentors camera man by beating and collecting his camera. They threw him off the spectators’ stand and he broke his leg.”
The source added that the Markmentors players were later visited with rain of bottles from the angry fans when they tried to rescue their camera man, two of the players were later rushed to the hospital with deep head injuries.
Those injured in the attack were identified as Jimoh Momoh, Emmanuel Ndibe and Okuongbae Osarhiemen.
Confirming the incident to our report, Markmentors Coach Adeka Daudu said the injured players are currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, the Chairman and CEO of Markmentors, Igoche Mark condemned in totality the incident, describing it as very unfortunate.
He said, “A basket ball match goes either way, either you win or lose. If you win, super and if otherwise, accept your fate and bow out gallantly. Learn from your mistakes and prepare for your next game. I fear for the future of the game here in Nigeria.”
Mr. Igoche, who wondered why should basketball game be turned into a boxing brawl, said, “I rather pull my team out of the league than risk the lives of any of my players or officials.”
“This is supposed to be a game and not a free for all tournament. This is really sad, I must confess. Up till now, we are yet to even receive a call from officials of the host team after the attack. It is a bad omen to the basketball industry that we are trying to build. If this kind of incident should repeat itself, we would be left with no other choice that to pull out from the league. Inasmuch as we want to promote the basketball game, we would not want to risk the lives of promising youths to some unpatriotic elements,” Igoche added.
He called on the basketball governing body in Nigeria to immediately come up with ways of curtailing harassment of visiting players and officials.
Meanwhile, a text message to the Niger State Police Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana was not replied at the time of this report just as efforts to reach the Niger Potters Coach Ishaq Yahaya could not yield any result at the time of this report.