Ayinla Oladipo Johnson has resigned his appointment as head coach of the Lagos Stallions in the African Basketball League. Ifeanyi Modo, his assistant until his resignation, has stepped in as the substantive head coach.
The Stallions are at the bottom of the ABL standings following three straight losses in the 2016 season, the last being a 35-point blowout loss to Libreville Izobe on 18 March 2016. Johnson’s resignation is another bump on the road for the equestrian team.
Stallions had a good performance in the first three quarters of the season opener against Dakar Rapids before giving up the lead on a 10-6 run by Rapids and losing 69-70. Stallions also lost by single-digit in the second game, which was against the Lagos Islanders. Though Islanders led the entire game, Stallions came within two points late in the second quarter before losing 81-98 at the end of the game. The third game, however, was uninspiring as Libreville Izobe practically pummeled Stallions for forty minutes, handing the Lagos-based team its third straight loss on a 97-62 performance.
Johnson could not be reached for comments on his resignation, but Modo confirmed his exit to Basketball Within Borders, stating that he (Modo) has been appointed into office as head coach.
There are indications, however, that Johnson’s resignation from the Stallions bear no particular relationship with the losses, especially for the fact that Stallions put up a fair performance in the first two games. Pundits around the league speculate that Johnson might have been threatened by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) following the latter’s disapproval of the ABL’s operations. Johnson served as an assistant to Will Voigt, head coach of D’Tigers, Nigeria’s senior male basketball team, at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship for Men in Tunisia.
Per Afolabi Oni, a sports journalist at UPGMC Media in Lagos, Ayinla’s resignation from the Stallions was borne from the need to protect his interests with the NBBF, particularly as he is bound to be on the D’Tigers technical team for the Rio 2016 Olympics following his contribution to the team’s historic performance at the 2015 Afrobasket Championship.
The NBBF had initially reacted in a vitriolic press release directed at the ABL and meant for the general public that the ABL’s operations was “illegal” and as such technical experts associating with the ABL risked sanctioning by the Federation. The NBBF promptly suspended three referees that had taken up officiating appointments with the ABL, sounding a note of warning that the referees ultimately risked losing their licenses by the NBBF if they continued to provide professional services to the ABL in exchange for monetary gratification. However, on 24 March 2016, the NBBF made good its threat by announcing a ban on the three referees involved – Olusegun Adekambi, Afeez Olayiwola Alimi, and Samuel Abiodun Shofoluwe – which it had recommended to the world governing body, FIBA.
Patrick Omorodion, NBBF media officer, made the announcement on his personal Facebook page, stating that the referees “were handed the worldwide suspension by basketball’s world body, FIBA which wrote the NBBF through the African body, FIBA Africa which had also earlier endorsed the decision of the NBBF.”
Johnson joined the Stallions in 2005 when it was known as Union Bank Basketball Club before the team left the NBBF/DStv League. He continued in that capacity when it changed name and migrated to the ABL until his resignation in March 2016.
Johnson’s career achievements include:
African Club Championships -2005 (Semifinals)
Head Coach: Nigeria U16 National Team -2011
Nigerian Premier League Atlantic Conference Champion -2011, 2013
Nigerian Premier League Finalist -2011
Head Coach: Nigeria U18 National Team -2012
Coach Assistant: Nigerian National Team -2013-2015
Nigerian Premier League Semifinals -2013
Coach Assistant: Nigerian National Team -2015