Nigeria’s D’Tigers on Friday brightened their chances of qualifying for next year’s Olympics by beating Cote d’Ivoire 83-66 in their first classification game at the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup in China.
They had finished third in Group B with three points and hence dropped into the classification area of the tournament as Africa’s top performers.
D’Tigers take on hosts China in their second classification game at the Guangzhou Gymnasium.
They have a better points deficit compared to the other four African teams in this competition and a win over the hosts will earn the D’Tigers Africa’s sole automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Nigeria take charge of game
The Nigerian side took the keenly contested first quarter 24-18 but crumbled in the second quarter with some sloppy displays which allowed the Ivorians a 17-13 win.
However, D’Tigers bounced back in the third quarter, with Al-Farouk Aminu and Nnamdi Vincent constantly asking questions of the Ivorian defence.
The two West African countries shared the spoil 20-20 in the final quarter of the highly entertaining game, but D’Tigers did just enough to run away as winners.
Nigeria had defeated Cote d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points during the World Cup qualifiers before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan later.
Although, Ike Diogu had nine rebounds, while Vincent scored D’Tigers’ highest points (15), Aminu was Nigeria’s best performer with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Federation boss speaks
Head of the country’s basketball body, Musa Kida, had said it was important for the team to win the only automatic ticket on offer to Africa for next year’s Olympic Games.
According to him, playing the qualifiers would have huge financial implications on the board.
Speaking after Nigeria lost to Argentina in their second game, Kida said that the priority of the team was clinching the Olympic ticket.
“Clearly for us, the qualification through the World Cup is still there and if we beat Korea, I am sure we will be coming out as the best performing African country in the World Cup and it will give us an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics,” he had said.
Concise News reports that Nigeria failed to progress beyond the group phase after losing 94-81 to Argentina.
The team had suffered a 77-82 defeat to Russia in their Group B opener at the World Cup which tipped off last Saturday.