FIBA 2019 World Cup: D’Tigers face African challenge

Anulika Menanya

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Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team, the D’Tigers, will on Friday begin their quest for qualification for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

The D’Tigers play Uganda, Rwanda and Mali in the second round of qualifiers taking place at the Indoor sports of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

Ahead of their first game against Uganda, D’Tigers head coach, Alex Nwora, has released his final 12 man team list.

The list announced at the team’s last training session on Thursday will be headlined by Sinchuan Blue Whales player and captain, Ike Diogu.

Others are Omoerah Keith Sado (Baerum Basket, Norway), Braxton Ogbueze Jai (Charlotte University, USA), Nwora Jordan (University of Louisville, USA) Agada Caleb Apochi (Prat, Spain) and Okosun Augustine Obehioye (Sameji Dominican Republic).

Mehinti Tosin Idowu (Lavrio, Greece) and Deji Akindele were also selected and are all in line to make their first competitive debut for Nigeria.

Others include Uzoh Benjamin (CB Caballero De Culican, Mexico), Mbamalu Bryant (CD Vildivia, Chile), Zanna Talib (Ironi Nes-Zion’s, Italy) and Emenago Obinna Clinton (Rouen Basket, France).

Speaking on their readiness, Nwora said the team was as ready as they can be as they look forward to a great match against Uganda.

“It’s going to be a good test for us tomorrow but hopefully we will be victorious tomorrow.

“We played them before. The last time we played them, they gave us a lot of problems.

“Now, they have newer players who did not play in the second window,” Nwora concluded.

Team Captain of D’Tigers, Ike Diogu, is also confident they will qualify for the tournament in China and is looking forward to an awesome time in front of the Lagos crowd.

“This is our last practice before the big show starts where we will play in front of our fans and we are looking forward to having a good tournament.”

Diogu ruled out the fear of buckling under the pressure of playing in front of Lagos fans.

“No pressure at all, we are just going out there to play the right way and hopefully, we can come out with 3 victories and the goal is to get one of these world cup tickets.”

He said that the whole team is motivated by the possibility of making their debut at the world cup and is excited that he has finally overcome his injury woes that ruled him out of the 2015 Afrobasket championship as he is ready to provide the quality leadership needed by the team.

“I have never been to the world championship and it’s an exciting challenge which we have all accepted.”

“I was happy to play last year at the African Championship and be injury free. In 2015 even though we won, I was injured. So, to be able to take the young ones as far as we did is a blessing. We are looking forward to qualifying in front of our home crowd.”