Nigeria’s D’Tigers Berth in China as Africa’s Number 1

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2019 FIBA WORLD CUP

Olawale Ajimotokan

Despite the absence of key players like Portland Trail Blazers guard, Al Farouq Aminu, Stanley Okoye, Obinna Emegano, Ike Nwamu and Christopher Obekpa, Nigeria’s senior male basketball team, D’Tigers have qualified for the 2019 FIBA World Cup scheduled to hold in China.

D’Tigers emerged as the Number One team in Group F and also Africa despite the team’s 63-84 defeat by Senegal in their last game on Sunday at the Palaise des Sports Indoor Hall in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Although Senegal defeated D’Tigers by 21pts, Nigeria got the African qualifiers zone job done in Lagos when they inflicted a 28-point defeat on the men from Dakar earlier.

Nigeria is thus heading to China as the winner of the African qualifying zone with a superior points difference of +268 as against Tunisia’s +264 in Group E.

D’Tigers’ Point Guard, Ikenna Iroegbu, scored 23 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds to finish the qualification series on a high while Captain Ike Diogu had 10 points, 6 dribbles and 7 rebounds on the night.

Despite the superior statistics against the Senegalese, (11-7 steals, 20-16 assists and more 21.4 points from turnovers as against 12.5 points made by their opponents), Nigeria lost the encounter due to inaccurate shooting.

In his post-match reaction, D’Tigers’ Coach, Alex Nwora, said the team would have loved to finish the qualifiers on a high with a win, but it did not go as expected.

The defeat was Nigeria’s second during the last window of the qualification series.

“I know for sure that it’s not what we expected. We came here to remain undefeated but as God will have it, we did not achieve that goal but we still finished top because of the previous window. We just had problems scoring and we also did not defend well, but I am proud of the guys,” enthused Nwora yesterday.

With the absence of some key members of the team coupled with the limited time frame for preparation, Nwora reckoned that it was likely to be a tough journey.

“Our scorers were unable to make it. We just had to get the guys that were available late and they gave their best.

He congratulated the team for a job well done, describing it as mission accomplished after emerging as the winner of the African series.

“I am proud that we are still Number 1 in Africa and also in our group.”

In Group E, Tunisia is first with 22 pts ahead of Angola with 21pts