D’Tigers became the first team to qualify for the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Championship after defeating South Sudan 75-70pts on a chilly evening in Monsatir, Tunisia.
The team avoided a last minute scare against a physically imposing opposition thanks to back to back treys from Obi Emegano to stretch D’Tigers lead to 5 after South Sudanese opened a one gap lead in the dying minutes of the game.
Currently ranked number one in Africa, the Mfon Udofia led side held their head high to grind out a well-deserved win, 18-9, 20-21, 19-18, 18-21.
Usual suspect, Ike Iroegbu emerged the highest scorer for the team with 16pts, 5 assists and 7 rebounds while Emegano contributed 15pts, 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Nuni Omot was on rampage all night scoring 27points, but his efforts were not enough to rescue his team from going under.
Debutants, Chima Moneke scored 8pts while Amanze Egekeze had 5pts before coming off injured with a medical report being awaited.
Uche Iroegbu with 6pts, 3rebs and 4 steals continued the tradition of brothers playing for D’Tigers as he made his debut and played alongside his brother, Ike Iroegbu.
They join the elite group of the Aminus (Al Farouk Aminu and Alade Aminu)
Nigeria will face off against Rwanda on Thursday.
2020 Olympics Group of Death: No Cause For Alarm Over Olympics Draws
The Nigeria Basketball Federation has expressed optimism that there is no cause for alarm following the draws that pitted D’Tigress against world number one, USA, France and 2020 Olympics host-Japan which many described as the ‘group of death’.
Reacting to the draws conducted yesterday, the Federation said it is focused on preparing the teams well for the challenges ahead in their quest to make Nigerians proud.
The Federation President, Engr Musa Kida said all the 12 teams at the Olympics have a reasonable chance of winning the tournament, hence there are no minnows.
“Nothing good can be handed to you on a platter of gold. You have to work hard and be ready to seize the opportunity when it comes because to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
He believes a lot can still happen between now and when the games tips off capable of upsetting bookmakers predictions and the fate of teams.
“We have to be focused on what we have to do as a federation with the help of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Sports to ensure we adequately prepare the team, get the right personnel for the challenges ahead.”
On his part, head coach of the senior women’s team, Otis Hughley described USA and world number five- France as familiar foes.
“We met USA and France at the last World Cup in Spain and again faced USA at the Olympics Qualifying Tournament in Serbia last year where we qualified for the Olympics.”
Otis who led the team to the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup thereby setting an African record before winning the 2019 FIBA Afrobasket championship noted that, “We are mindful of the threat these teams pose to us including Japan who are ranked 10th in the FIBA ranking. We are going to prepare adequately to ensure that when the time comes, we will be ready.”
In an unprecedented fashion prior to any Olympics, D’Tigress are currently camped in Atlanta, USA months before the games under the watchful eyes of Coach Otis.
The Olympics games will be held between 23rd of July and 8th of August, 2021 after its initial postponement due to COVID-19
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