By Duro Ikhazuagbe
D'Tigers have admitted that it was not easy overcoming African champions, Tunisia in the opening game of Group A of the basketball event of London 2012.
Speaking after the nerve racking win, D'Tigers captain, Diogu described the victory as a dream come true.
"I really treasure this moment to be part of history, winning Nigeria's first match at the Olympics. It was not an easy victory because the Tunisians also needed to win this opening game," said the former San Antonio Spurs star.
Diogu praised the Tunisians for the brave effort to cancel out Nigeria's advantage going into the final quarter.
"The game became technical and the Tunisians were desperate. We just went flat in the second half of the third quarter and it almost cost us but i still thank God that we were able to triumph when it mattered most."
He admitted that the one-on-one pattern that Coach Ayo Bakare insisted on in the earlier part of the game paid off handsomely for the D' Tigers.
"The Coach insisted that we take on the Tunisians one-on-one and it was good as it worked out fine for us. We did the swinging and enjoyed every minute. Winning was all that matter to us and we all wanted to be part of that history."
However, Coach Bakare insisted that the show put up by the two teams was a good testimony for Africa in the game.
"First, I want to thank God for this first ever victory. Both countries were able to put up good display that was a credit to Africa. Victory could have gone either way to show how tight the game was."
Another win in the group will see Nigeria among the four teams that will qualify to play in the play off.
D' Tigers 60-56 victory over the African champions was their first ever Olympic Men's Basketball game victory.
It was a brilliant start of a campaign they were not favoured to qualify. But the determined Nigerian players showed that their qualification in Venezuela a fortnight ago was no fluke.
Despite their first full points of the Group A pairing that include France, Lithuania, USA and Argentina, the D' Tigers almost threw away the game, dropping their 16 points advantage from the second quarter to just two in the first game of the fourth quarter.
But it was the Tunisians who went on self-destruct mission in the final quarter through unnecessary anxiety to level up and perhaps snatch victory in the game that was also their debut in the Olympic male basketball.
D' Tigers' Alade Aminu shown brightly, scoring 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds with super-star, Ike Diogu adding another 13 points and 10 to seal the victory.
Alade's brother, Al Farouq who last season playerd for New Orlean Hornets in the Amerrican NBA, added 10 points and nine rebounds to the haul.
D' Tigers got their biggest lead at 29-10 on the way to a 31-15 halftime advantage before Tunisia rallied, scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter and pulling within 56-54 in the final seconds a Mourad El Mabrouk three-pointer.
Three free throws down the stretch, secured hurray for the mostly United States of America-born players. The victory has now stretched Nigeria's dominance over the North Africans. Nigeria has not lost any competitive game to the Tunisians since 1987.
Tunisian coach, Adel Tlatti, said that he had no regrets loosing to Nigeria as the D' Tigers deserved the victory.
He admitted to telling his players that they had lost the game midway into the encounter.
"We were under constant pressure from the Nigerians and my players could not contain them. I told my players that they have lost the match. From the way Nigeria played to qualify in Venezuela, it was obvious they had the best team from Africa."
Adel said that he is not scared playing the United States of America in Tunisia's next match.
"We have played USA before at the World Championships. We don't need any extra preparation against them," said Adel.