Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) has traced the qualification of the D’Tigress for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan to the immense support of the President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare and millions of Nigerian basketball lovers all over the world.
After securing their first win of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Mozambique, the back-to-back African champions D’Tigress on Saturday booked a ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo despite losing to host-Serbia in their second group game 64-70 points.
Mozambique’s quest to qualify ahead of Nigeria suffered a heavy knock when they lost scandalously 49-124pts against current world champions- USA.
It was also the first time the Nigerian senior women’s basketball team will return to the Olympics after 16 years of absence.
The NBBF President, Ahmadu Musa Kida said the ability of the federation to produce two teams (men and women) for the same Olympics has never happened before in the history of basketball in Nigeria which made Saturday’s feat even sweeter.
“We thank his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for his fatherly role and support all through this journey to book an Olympic Games ticket. The Honourable Minister also played a major role through his timely interventions, encouragement and the keen interest he developed towards basketball in Nigeria since assuming office.”
Kida also praised the fans for staying solidly behind D’Tigers and D’Tigress all through the qualifiers. The NBBF President also thanked them for the unflinching support of the Federation since he was sworn-in in 2017.
“This long journey was made easier by the fans who showed resilience and were relentless in their support for the two national teams. I am overwhelmed by the number of calls and text messages I have received since the teams qualified.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Sunday Dare communicated with the team on Saturday via telephone through the NBBF President immediately after their 2020 Olympic Games’ ticket was confirmed. He congratulated them for doing Nigerians proud.
He promised that adequate arrangements will be put in place to prepare the team for the 2020 Olympics as they continue their journey in making history.
The record-breaking feat saw the men and women national teams qualifying for the Olympics at the same time for the first time. It is also the first for any African country.