How Nigeria's D'Tigers Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Nigeria’s D’Tigers qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics after beating hosts China in their last Classification game at the FIBA World Cup (image courtesy: FIBA)

Nigeria’s D’Tigers have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by subduing hosts China on Sunday in their final Classification game at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Playing in front of China’s army of passionate supporters, the 2015 African champs beat their Asian counterparts 86 to 73 to earn the Olympic ticket.

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Concise News reports that this is Nigeria’s third straight qualification for the Olympics. The country’s senior men’s basketball team had featured at the last two Summer Games in London (2012) and Rio (2016).

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.

The West Africans eventually cemented their place at next year’s Olympics by finishing as the highest-ranked African country at the 32-team tournament.

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The Portland Trailblazers man had said that Nigeria had the mental strength to overcome the hostile atmosphere on Sunday night.

“There has been pressure since the first game of the tournament,” FIBA website quoted him as saying. “We are always playing to win and we want to represent our country in the best way.

“We didn’t get the job done in getting a medal but we have a new goal and want to qualify for the Olympics.”

The team had suffered a 77-82 defeat to Russia in their Group B opener at the World Cup which tipped off on Saturday August 31.

Thereafter, Nigeria lost 94-81 to Argentina in their second game, before keeping their Olympic hopes alive by recording a 108-66 win over South Korea in their last group contest.

The D’Tigers followed that win with a 83-66 defeat of fellow West Africans, Cote d’Ivoire, in their first classification game before breasting the tape in the race for Africa’s sole automatic ticket to the Summer Olympics.

Meanwhile, Iran also booked their ticket to the 2020 Olympics with a resounding win over the Philippines. The Iranians dominated Philippines to win 95-75.

In other Classification matches, Tunisia edged out fellow Africans Angola 86-84, while Korea overcame Cote d’Ivoire with 80-71 win.