Nigeria’s men national basketball team, D’Tigers, yesterday secured 83-66 points win over Cote Cote d’Ivoire counterparts at the ongoing FIBA World Cup in China.
D’Tigers survived a late rally from the Ivorians to record their second win at the World Cup and also stay on course to pick an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games.
The team was inspired by Al-Farouq Aminu with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to emerge the top performer.
Yesterday’s classification game started on an even note with both team trading baskets until Nigeria pulled away at 11-6 and then ending the first quarter 28-18 with a ten-point lead.
The Ivorians switched gear in the second quarter by going up 2 points at 30-32, but Nigeria quickly bounced back to take the lead with a 3 point shot from Ike Iroegbu to tie the game at 35-35 before pulling ahead to end the second quarter 37-35.
Nigeria won the first and third quarters while tying the 4th quarter 20-20 with Cote d’Ivoire winning the second quarter.
Nnamdi Vincent led all Nigerian scorers with 15 points while Cote d’Ivoire’s Deon Thompson led all scorers with 19 points.
Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire are familiar foes as during the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, D’Tigers defeated the Elephants in Lagos 84-73 points before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan to hand the Ivorians a World Cup qualification lifeline.
Commenting after the game, Head Coach, Alex Nwora again praised the team for beautifully executing the game plan.
“I think we did a good job today to contain a well coached Ivorian team. I am proud of these guys and their efforts. I think we have one more game to worry about against China on Sunday”.
The man of the match, Al-Farouq said that with the new goal being a qualification for the Olympics, the team came out to get the job done.
“That is our goal now obviously. We got knocked out of the contention to get a medal so we had to change our vision and continue to make sure that we keep Nigerian basketball, playing every year and compete. So, we want to ensure that we do the best to qualify for the Olympics.”
On the team’s performance in the second half, he said, “We wanted to come out in the second half and play what we thought should have been. First quarter, we got a bit of a lead, the second quarter dropped. We told ourselves we needed a good 3rd quarter because we didn’t want it to come down to the stretch. We are proud of the way we executed the offense and defense to extend the lead.”