FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
Nigeria’s D’Tigers Coach, Alex Nwora, has warned that today’s 2019 FIBA World Cup qualification game against host country Cote d’Ivoire will not be a walk in the park for his wards.
Despite missing the presence of some of Nigeria’s biggest names in basketball the team to line up against the Ivorians, Nwora believes D’Tigers will come out clean with their unbeaten record intact from nine games.
Portland Trail Blazers guard, Al Farouq Aminu, Stanley Okoye, Obinna Emegano, Ike Nwamu and Christopher Obekpa, will play no part in the final qualifying campaign billed to tip off from today, February 22 to February 24 at the Palaise des Sports Indoor Hall in the Ivorian capital.
While he’s not losing sleep over the absence of the top stars, Nwora said it was another opportunity for him to give playing time to other players in the team.
Gaziantep of Turkey centre, Tonye Jekiri and Gombe Bull’s rising star, Buchi Agu may be in line for their D’Tigers debut when the team files out today.
Speaking yesterday after the team’s last training ahead of the game with Cote d’Ivoire, Nwora said his coaching philosophy of ensuring that everybody in his team gets a piece of the action has made it tactically and technically difficult for opposing coaches.
“Everybody that has been called to the team will play. In my system, everybody plays and that is why we are very tough to scout because we don’t have a go to guy. Everybody in the team is good enough to represent Nigeria,” Nwora emphasized.
The tough talking coach said that as one of the powerhouses in African basketball, all players who have been invited to the team deserve a spot on the court.
“Anybody invited to the national team will play. Nobody is coming here for vacation; they are coming here to work because it is a business trip.”
Despite expecting a hostile reception from the fans and tough fight from the host who are condemned to either win or forget qualifying for the World Cup, Nwora said his team must stay grounded and show their dominance as the Number 1 team in Africa.
“I know we are going to face a lot of hostilities from the crowd. They have all their players and even brought in a couple of new players that were not in Nigeria when they played us.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are playing at home or not. We just have to do what we have to do even though we don’t have some of our marquee players, but we just have to show dominance here”, Nwora continued
He urged Nigerians living in Abidjan to turn out in their numbers to support the team in their quest to maintain their unbeaten run in the qualifying rounds.
Côte d’Ivoire is currently 4th on the log with 13 points alongside Central Africa Republic after nine matches while Senegal have 16 points from seven wins.
Meanwhile, Obinna Emegano (Rouen Basket, France) overcame all odds to report to camp on Wednesday night having earlier being ruled out of the last window due to club commitments and travel logistics.
The arrival of the point guard whose last appearance for the team was in September in Lagos against Senegal which the team won by 81points to 69 has added to the quality at Nwora’s disposal.