Francis Ajuonuma, Lagos
D’Tigers of Nigeria have sealed their ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan following an impressive and hard fought victory over China in the classification fixtures of the ongoing FIBA World Cup in China.
D’Tigers won the explosive encounter by 86-73 points.
The 2015 African Champions lost the first quarter at 19-21 points but bounced back in the second quarter to win at 16-10 as the first half ended at 35-31 points. At the resumption of the second half D’Tigers continued with their dominance as they won the third and fourth quarters at 25-20 points and 26-22 points respectively to win the game at 86-73 points and finished as the top African team in the 17-32 classification playoff of the world cup to guarantee their place in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Small guard, Okogie Josh of Minnesota Timberwolves in the National Basketball was the top scorer for D’Tigers, recording 19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, while Yi Jianlian of China was the highest scorer in the game with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists but that was not enough to safe his side from bowing to the D’Tigers.
D’Tigers had on Friday defeated Cote d Ivoire 83-66 in their first classification game of the 2019 FIBA World Cup after placing third in group B behind Argentina and Russia to crash out of the title race.
The Authority recalls that D’Tigers featured at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil after a triumph outing at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship in Rades, Tunisia.
Meanwhile, President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Engr Musa Kida has assured Nigerians of more international laurels with what is left of the current board’s mandate.
Kida, who spoke on the eve of D’Tigers’ clash against host- China at the ongoing FIBA World Cup, Kida insists that the board under his watch is just getting started, noting that the recent global recognition by FIBA and the accolades back home have continued to motivate him and his board members to do more.
He also reflected on the recent achievements by the 3×3 teams at the 2019 African Games, the 2019 Women’s Afrobasket success, the performances of the D’Tigers at the World Cup and the recent recognition of the most improved Federation in the whole world by FIBA.
“I am happy to say that, just like I promised stakeholders at inception of our mandate, Nigerian basketball has come to stay. The NBBF has shown that Nigeria should be a multi-sport country, as there are other federations that can perform at this high level. For me, nothing is ever too much, especially if you asses the results we have had in the last 2 years.
“So, I will say, we are actually just getting started. Two years is a long time but it is a very very short time for the type of results that we have achieved”, Kida said.
When asked about his heavy financial investment in basketball, the NBBF President whose federation was globally recognized as the Most Improved Women’s Team between 2017 – 2019 at the plenary session of FIBA Congress and Awards Ceremony, he added:
“I actually volunteered to be elected president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation. I came in to it with my eyes wide open and I knew that my board and myself had to make a lot of sacrifices to uplift the game, and We were ready to make those sacrifices because of the passion That we have for basketball.”
The NBBF President assured that with the very good body language of the new Honorable Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, who has already given instructions for proper relief in funding for the NBBF, we can only do much better at all levels.
“We have had very useful discussions with the new minister who has actually shown good disposition to helping all sports in the country.” We can all see the practical evidence in his short time in office by the way he has hit the ground running on all fronts.