Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers on Friday in China at the ongoing FIBA World Cup defeated Cote d’Ivoire 83-66 in their first classification phase game.
Having finished third in Group B with three points, the D’Tigers entered into the classification phase of the tournament as Africa’s top performers.
They are therefore poised to clinch Africa’s sole automatic ticket for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Nigerian side took the keenly contested first quarter 24-18 but crumbled in the second quarter with some sloppy displays which allowed the Ivorians a 17-13 win.
However, D’Tigers bounced back in the third quarter, with Al-Farouk Aminu and Nnamdi Vincent constantly asking questions of the Ivorian defence.
The two West African countries shared the spoil 20-20 in the final quarter of the highly entertaining game, but D’Tigers did just enough to run away as winners.
Nigeria had defeated Cote d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points during the World Cup qualifiers before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan later.
Although, Ike Diogu had nine rebounds, while Vincent scored D’Tigers’ highest points (15), Aminu was Nigeria’s best performer with 13 points, 7 rebounds, four assists and 2 steals.
D’Tigers will now focus on hosts China, who they will play in their second classification game at the Guangzhou Gymnasium, China.
A victory against China will earn D’Tigers the highest placed in Africa, having enjoyed a better points deficit compared to the other four African teams.
Musa Kida, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) President, had said it was important for the team to grab the only automatic ticket on offer to Africa for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
He said that playing the qualifiers would have huge financial implications on the board.