By Ebun Sessou
Preparations are on top gear as D’tigers Men Basketball team is warming up for the FIBA Basket World Cup Qualifiers lead by seasoned head coach Alex Nwora to participate in the phase two of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Lagos.
Speaking on the tournament, the spokesperson, Mr. Jonathan Majin, on behalf of the World Continental Qualifier, WCQ said, beginning from next week, June 29 to run through July 1 at the National stadium, the D’Tigers would be competing with other African countries at the National stadium before proceeding to China in 2019.
According to him, “the team would be flying to Ivory Coast on Friday the June 22 to compete in two competitive friendlies vs Ivory Coast. The back room staff has expressed the importance of getting some synergy as this will be instrumental to the teams success.
“The first leg of the qualifiers was held in Bamako, Mali, where D’Tigers became the third team to boast a 100 percent winning record in Africa. A particular highlight of this blowout of host nation Mali. 82-59 to D’Tigers.
“Emerging as runaway leaders of group B, there are many reasons to be optimistic as they return home to protect home soil.
Returners like Ben Uzoh, a former NBA player who currently hold an NBA record with the Toronto raptors as the first rookie with a triple double, and Ike Diogu, the 4th pick in the NBA draft, will be expected to maintain high level performances that proved instrumental for the team in Mali.
Nigeria’s National basketball team joined FIBA in 1964. Due to the steady increase of talents from Nigeria as well as the organized recruitment of professional players of Nigerian descent, especially from the NCAA. The teams success has continued to grow. And following a strong performance in Mali, D’Tigers are looking to book a place in the China 2019 edition.
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification (Africa) process will determine the 5 African teams that will participate at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Nigeria is paired alongside Uganda, Mali, Rwanda in the group B while Group A include Tunisia, Cameroon, Chad and Guinea. Group C comprises Angola, Egypt, Morocco and DR Congo as well as Group D which include Senegal, Mozambique, Central African Republic and Ivory Coast.
In a warm reception, some of the players who arrived Nigeria on Tuesday to participate in the event, Braxton Ogbueze, said, he was excited to represent his country. “It is a great privilege to come and play for my country. We are very prepared and we are ready to do what we know how to do best and take care of business and it is going to be a fun time.
The 23-year old Caleb Agada, from Canada said, he is back in his country to participate in the turnament and deliver the best for Nigeria. I left Nigeria at the age of six when I was invited to come play for the qualifiers, I was happy. It was a dream I have been longing for and I am happy it is a reality. Nigeria has always been one of the top team in Africa so obviously we know that we have a good chance of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Keith Omoerah, expressed optimism that his team would deliver. “I think we have great group and we are going to flow together”, he said.