• Face Mali Today, Ogunade, Oyedeji React
Nigeria’s men’s national basketball team, D’Tigers, yesterday went down 70 -79 points to Cape Verde at the ongoing FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda.
To remain in contention, stand-in head coach, Alan Major, says the team must take care of the ball when they face Mali in their next game.
He highlighted the team’s turnover ratio and rebound efforts, which he said were responsible for the team’s 70-79points loss despite crediting the team for their resilience and hard work.
“They (Cape Verde) had 16 points from our turnovers, 11 second-chance points from 16 offensive rebounds. These are some things we can clean up, but I do like the effort. We fought back and had the lead, but we gave up a big put back to Williams Tavares.
He congratulated Cape Verde for their victory saying: “They played well. They got a cushion on us at halftime. I thought our guys did a great job by fighting back to take the lead towards the end of the match, but you know in a game like this, you do not have much margin for error.”
Alan Major said the team got scared towards the end of the game and rushed their plays in a quest to restore their lead, giving their opponent the winning edge.
“We just have to go back, watch some films, clean up some things and be ready to play tomorrow (today).”
After winning the first quarter, 15-14 points, Cape Verde took charge in the second quarter, 25-11 to head into halftime with a 39-26points lead.
D’Tigers’ performance in the second quarter haunted the team despite a spirited effort in the second half, 21-17, 17-17points
The team has seven (7) points from four (4) matches and will face Mali today.
Meanwhile, the Vice President of NBBF, Babs Ogunade, told The Guardian yesterday that the Federal government’s ban on international Basketball affected D’Tigers’ preparation for the qualifier.
“You can see the Federal government ban is reflecting on D’Tigers at the qualifier. The team was put together without enough preparation. With this defeat, I am sure the players will fight hard to win the two games against Mali and Uganda. They have the experience to get good results in Rwanda,” he said.
Former D’Tigers captain and NBBF board member, Olumide Oyedeji stated that yesterday’s defeat would motivate the players to win their two games.
“I commend the players for coming together in a short time to represent the country in Kigali. They did not have enough time to prepare well unlike their counterparts. I am sure that is why they lost. There next game will be different. I believe D’Tigers will come out stronger and more organised to get the victory,” he said.
According to FIBA, the top three teams from the D’Tigers group and other groups will advance to the second round of the qualifiers where each team will play six games. The two top teams in each group, along with the best third-placed team, will qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023.