2020 TOKYO OLYMPIC TICKET
As D’Tigers take on Cote d’Ivoire this morning (9am Nigerian time) in the first game of the Classification round at the Guangzhou Arena, President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Musa Kida, has said that the senior national basketball team must qualify for next year’s Olympic rather than waiting for the qualification tournament.
The five African countries at the FIBA World Cup in China have all dropped into the classification round after failing to make the cut to the next round of the World Cup.
Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire are battling for the sole African ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
But Kida who has been running the federation with little or nothing from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports since he took charge two years ago, has started to feel the heat of funding Nigerian basketball.
And so, instead of incurring more costs going for another Olympic Qualification Tournament, the NBBF president is praying that the D’Tigers get the job done in Guangzhou.
“Inviting players, camping them and playing the OQT will involve money which can be channeled to developing basketball back home.
“The boys are fully aware of what is at stake and the need to continue their winning run,” stressed Kida in Guangzhou yesterday.
For D’Tigers to stand a chance of qualifying for the Olympic, they must win their games against Côte d’Ivoire and host- China to emerge as the highest placed team in Africa having enjoyed a better points deficit compared to the other four African teams.
Having narrowly missed out of the second round ticket at the World Cup, D’Tigers’ Head Coach, Alex Nwora admitted that the victory against Korea on Tuesday was a lifeline for Nigeria.
“There is everything to fight for starting with this important game against Cote d’Ivoire on Friday (today).
“The team has continued to improve and we hope to step it up on Friday. Tunisia, Senegal, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire will all be desperate to get the Olympic ticket. So we must get our acts right and get the job done.”
During the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria defeated Côte d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan to hand the Ivorians a World Cup qualification lifeline.
Nwora said all records are now in the past with all teams in search of a ticket to Tokyo.
“We have played each other in the past but this is different. The stakes are now higher and we are all aware of that. All the games we played in the past will count for nothing at this stage if we don’t win the ticket,” concludes the D’Tigers coach.