Nigeria’s male basketball team, D’Tigers, made another impressive performance yesterday, as they defeated their fierce West African rivals, Cote D’Ivoire, 83-66 points in their first classification game at the ongoing 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
The team was inspired by Al-Farouq Aminu with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists to emerge the top performer.D’Tigers, who have since set their target on an automatic Olympic Games qualification, started in a fierce fashion to win the first quarter, 24-18 points.
Not to be outdone and inspired by Deon Thompson, the Ivorians stepped up their offensive play to win the second quarter, 17-13points as the first half ended with just two points advantage for D’Tigers, 37-35 points.Some crucial treys from Nnamdi Vincent and Stan Okoye proved decisive in the third quarter against the familiar foes, who were not ready to roll over without a fight.
Vincent contributed 15 points, two rebounds while Ekpe Udoh had 13 points, five rebounds and one assist in a match that 5 players scored double digits.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach, Alex Nwora praised the players for ‘beautifully’ executing the game plan.He said: “I think we did a good job today to contain a well coached Ivorian team. I am proud of these guys and their efforts. I think we have one more game to worry about against China on Sunday.”The man of the match, Al-Farouq, said that with the new goal being a qualification for the Olympics, the team came out to get the job done.
“That is our goal now obviously. We got knocked out of the contention to get a medal so we had to change our vision and continue to make sure that we keep Nigerian basketball, playing every year and compete. So, we want to ensure that we do the best to qualify for the Olympics.”
On the team’s performance in the second half, he said: “We wanted to come out in the second half and play what we thought should have been. First quarter, we got a bit of a lead, the second quarter dropped. We told ourselves we needed a good 3rd quarter because we didn’t want it to come down to the stretch. We are proud of the way we executed the offense and defense to extend the lead.”
The win is the 6th win by Nigeria in as many as seven meetings between both sides.As it stands, the team is the highest ranked African team at the World Cup ahead of their last game against host- China.A win will see them book a place in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.