After D’Tigers lost their second straight game of the ongoing FIBA World Cup in China to Argentina 81-94 points yesterday, Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan now rests squarely on the country’s senior men’s team defeating Korea in their third match of the series. Nigeria lost her first game to Russia last Saturday.
Another loss would mean Nigeria automatically handing over the continent’s ticket to Tunisia who defeated Iran 79-67 yesterday.
Despite a spirited effort from the young side paraded by Alex Nwora and ending the first half 43-43 apiece against the South Americans who are the fifth rated team in the world, it was not enough to see D’Tigers pocket their first victory.
The Nigerian lads could only manage to win only the second quarter of the game 17-28, 26-15, 18-29, 20-22.
Josh Okogie who on Sunday celebrated his 21st birthday, again was the top performer for the team with 18 points, five assists and two rebounds.
Jordan Nwora scored 12 points, two assists and caught three rebounds during the 20.51minutes he spent on the court.
Al-Farouk Aminu put in a good shift defensively for the team with eight rebounds and three points.
Despite the narrow loss, Head Coach of the Nigerian team, Alex Nwora said he was proud of the team and that D’Tigers lost to a better side despite battling hard to grind out a win.
Nwora said that it was not the result the boys wanted but that in basketball, losing and winning were all part of the game.
“I am proud of them. We battled for our lives, we battled back for a better deficit unfortunately, we fell short in some areas.”
Nwora said the D’Tigers team is a young team and have not played together for a long time compared to most teams competing at the World Cup.
“This particular team is a very young team. Some of the players are playing together for the first time. I believe if we continue blending this team, we can only get better if we keep this team together.”
He said attention will now be focused on the last group game against Korea as the search continues for the win.
The Tunisians who lost their opening game to Spain have won a game and if they win a second against Puerto Rico and move into the second round, Nigeria will be out of contention for the Olympic ticket
If they lose their third game and D’Tigers win against Korea, points scored between the two teams will play a role in deciding who gets the ticket.
NBBF Board Member, Col. Sam Ahmedu (rtd) told THISDAY last night that hope was not lost yet.
“If Puerto Rico beats Tunisia and we beat Korea, the points scored and conceded will be added to decide who is better placed between Nigeria and Tunisia. Don’t forget the Tunisians lost to Spain by a wide margin,” observed the NBBF board member last night from China.
There is only one ticket for African to the Olympics, same goes for Asia and Oceania while Europe and the Americas have two teams each.