D'Tigers at FIBA World Cup 2019
D’Tigers in China (Photo: D’Tigers, Nigeria Basketball/Twitter)

Nigeria’s D’Tigers suffered a 77-82 defeat to Russia in their opening match at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup which tipped off Saturday in China, Concise News reports.

Head Coach Alex Nwora started the contest with Benjamin Uzoh, Joshua Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu.

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Russia dictated early proceedings and they went on a 10-0 run after D’Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

As the game grew, Ike Iroegbu checked in for Uzoh while Ekpe Udoh alternated for Diogu.

Russia got their noses in front 18-7 as D’Tigers struggled offensively.

Nigeria trailed 18-13 at the end of the first quarter.

It was a slow start but good recovery from the West Africans.

After a great hustle from Stanley Okoye found Chimezie Metu for a slam, Nigeria were still behind 25-17 in the second quarter.

Okogie cut Russia’s lead to 28-24 and a Nwora Jr. three cut the slippage to 31-29.

D’Tigers had their chances to tie up the game but were culpable of too many turnovers.

At half-time at the Wuhan Sports Centre in Wuhan, Russia led 40-35.

Russia continued where they left off as play resumed.

Despite some good fight from the Nigerians – who are parading debutants at the world cup – Russia still maintained their lead. Nwora and Iroegbu got Nigeria closer at different times.

But, matters would be levelled by the end of the third quarter – 58 -58! Okogie with three Free Throws converted.

The last quarter picked up and D’Tigers ensured Russia would be behind. At a point, 58-60; and at another period, 60-68. 10-2 run to start the quarter as they claim control of the duel.

With 4 minutes left, Nigeria led their European opponents 71-68.

It was a close battle. With less than a minute to the end of the game, score was 75-75.

The match would eventually end 82-77 in Russia’s favour.

The Nigerian side is paired alongside Argentina, Korea Republic and Russia in Group B of the World Cup.

The number one ranked team in Africa made its debut at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 1998 in Athens, Greece while their last appearance was in 2006 where the team got eliminated in the Round of 16.