Alex Nwora, Head Coach, Nigeria’s Senior National Men’s Basketball team, D’Tigers, says winning their first game is the most important thing in the ongoing FIBA World Cup qualifiers holding in Lagos.
D’Tigers parading some of the best players in the competition, defeated Cote D’Ivoire, 84-73, to claim first game in the second round of the qualification series.
Obi Emegano, Al-Farouk Aminu, Ike Diogu, led the floor with 15, 13 and 11 points respectively, and not forgetting Ikenna Ireogbu, and Ike Nwamu, who were constant threat to the Ivoiriens.
D’Tigers recorded a 21-19, 41-32 in the first half of the match, and also dictated the pace of the game in the second half recording 64-48 and eventually sealing their victory at 84-73 points.
Nwora said that the team played well and must give credit to the Ivoiriens who also put up a beautiful performance.
“I think we had a great game and my players rose up to the occasion and gave their best to ensure the all important victory.
“We cannot downplay the Ivoiriens based on our quality, but the most important thing is we won the match which was very important to the success of the team.
“When we play our next game we will have worked on areas that we made some mistakes, especially at the `unforced turnovers’ we submitted to our opponents,’’ Nwora said.
Similarly, Al-Farouk Aminu, D’Tigers player said that it was a very good game and the team deserved the victory.
“It doesn’t matter who gets the highest scores line out there, what matters most was a win, and together as a team we won.
“If a player scored 30 points and beyond and the team loses the player gains nothing at the end, we are proud of our achievements as we proceed to the next game,’’ Aminu said.
The Ivoirien coach, Paolo Davide-Povia, said that playing against Nigeria was very difficult, because of the quality of players in the team.
“We had a good game, but could not match up with the depth of quality in the Nigeria’s squad.
We have to try and do better and play to win to get something out of the competition, because it is our desire to book a ticket for the world cup,’’ Davide-Povia said.
In other games played at the indoor sports hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Senegal crushed Rwanda, 94-89, while Mali beat Central Africa Republic (CAR) 66-55.
The competition goes into second round of matches as Mali gets set to face Senegal, Rwanda squares with Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria lay siege on CAR.
NAN/ Jibril .O