The Nigerian national basketball, team also known as the D’Tigers, were the surprise team going into the Tokyo Olympics after they handed heavy defeats to the number one ranked team in the world and eventual gold medal winners, Team USA, in a pre-Olympic test match-up. They also followed this up with an impressive win against the fourth seeded team Australia before the main Olympic.
These created a buzz and believe among Nigerians of a medal possibility in the event when the competition starts, but all that fizzled away as the Mike Brown led team lost all three group games and crashed out of the competition very early.
It’s just been some few weeks later but the team is ready to step-out again to compete in the white and green colours, but this time around the location is Kigali Rwanda where the Afrobasket competition is holding. It’s billed to run from August 24th to September 5th.
Top teams on the continent are all eyeing this as a cushion to their failure at either the Olympics or not making it there at all. Nigeria has been grouped together with Mali, Kenya and Ivory for a chance to make it to the quarter finals for who comes out of the group.
Even though the team does not have the flashy NBA players that dominated the rooster heading into the Olympics, coach Mike Brown is confident in his 12 man list which still has 8 overseas based players alongside 4 home based players namely Nwafor Joseph (Kano Pillars), Ibe Aguchi (Gombe Bulls), and the duo from Rivers Hoopers, Ikechukwu Benjamin and Koko Victor.
The only known face from the qualifiers that has survived to the competition proper is Jordan Ogundiran who averaged 2.7 points per game.
The team has however put the disappointment of the Olympics behind them, and won this for their teeming fans who gladly accept another continental dominance bragging rights without any fuzz.
The first time the team won the completion was in the year 2015, but lost to host nation Tunisia in the finals at the last time out, so this is an excellent opportunity to reaffirm their dominance once again.
Coach Mike Brown was assisted on the bench by Rivers Hoopers coach Ogor Odaudu in Kigali. On paper, it looked like an easy group to come out from but the team was advised to take every game very serious or risk being embarrassed. This came from veteran and former D’Tigers Coach Scot Nnaji.
He said, “The group looks good on paper for d’Tigers but they need to be careful as this is not the superstar rooster that went to the Olympics. But I expect them to make it out of the group and still do well.”
The entire nation rooted for them in their quest, and they brought the victory back home!
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Abel Alasan is a creative writer with over 6 years creating contents for blogs, magazines and documentary projects. His areas of interest ranges from politics, lifestyle, family/parenting and sports.