*Claim 75-70 win against South Sudan to maintain their unbeaten run
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, yesterday became the first team to qualify for the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Championship after defeating South Sudan 75-70pts on a chilly evening in Monastir, Tunisia.
Although D’Tigers had set their qualification for the continent’s prime competition on course with unbeaten run at the first phase of the qualifiers in Rwanda late last year, the the Sudanese gave the Nigerian stars a run for their money.
The Nigerian lads almost paid dearly for disrespecting the Sudanese with their arrogant play pattern.
The team avoided a last minute scare against a physically imposing opposition thanks to back-to-back threes from Obi Emegano to stretch D’Tigers lead to 5 after the South Sudanese opened a one gap lead in the dying minutes of the game.
Currently ranked number one in Africa, the Mfon Udofia-led team held their head high to grind out a well-deserved win of 18-9, 20-21, 19-18, 18-21.
Usual suspect, Ike Iroegbu emerged the highest scorer for Nigeria with 16pts, 5 assists and 7 rebounds while Emegano contributed 15pts, 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Sudan’s Nuni Omot was on rampage all night scoring 27points, but his efforts were not enough to rescue his team from going under.
Debutants, Chima Moneke scored 8pts while Amanze Egekeze had 5pts before coming off injured with a medical report being awaited.
Uche Iroegbu with 6pts, 3rebs and 4 steals continued the tradition of brothers playing for D’Tigers as he made his debut and played alongside his brother, Ike Iroegbu.
They join the elite group of the Aminus (Al Farouk Aminu and Alade Aminu)
Nigeria will face off against Rwanda today in the continuation of the qualifiers in the Tunisian city of Monastir.