AfroBasket: Lawal Expresses Optimism On D’Tigers | Independent Newspapers Limited
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AfroBasket: Lawal Expresses Optimism On D’Tigers

Posted: Jul 28, 2015 at 12:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Stories by Chibuike Chukwu  – Lagos


Newly invited D’Tigers player, Olaseni ‘Shane’ Lawal, has expressed optimism that the national team may go all the way in the fast-approaching AfroBasket championship in Tunisia.

It will be recalled that Nigeria’s new coach, Will Voigt, announced his 26-player preliminary squad on last week in Abuja, and Lawal was included in the team, meaning the player could make his national team debut at AfroBasket 2015 if eventually selected.



The 2.08m center is among a list of big names in the Nigerian squad that includes Ike Diogu, Portland Trail Blazers new recruit Al Farouq Aminu and former Los Angeles Clippers forward Ekpe Udoh.

Speaking at the weekend, the FC Barcelona basketball team player said it is very possible that Nigeria will do well at the championship with the players in the camp.

“I am very excited to play for Nigeria. My excitement grows when I look at the caliber of players in our camp. This team can go all the way. We wait till the time. Nigeria has what it takes to win her first title at this level.”

Voigt, who had his first contact with the team over the weekend during its training camp opening, has blended young, veterans, local as well as foreign-based players in a team that will take aim at winning its first-ever continental title at AfroBasket 2015, taking place from 19 to 30 August in Tunisia.

Nigeria, which has been drawn in Group-A alongside hosts Tunisia, Central African Republic (CAR) and debutants, Uganda, are among the frontrunners to win this year’s event, which serves as a qualifier for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

With the exceptions of Gani Lawal and Richard Oruche, who got injured in the tournament opener against Mali, the nine leading players, who featured for Nigeria two years ago in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, have been invited to battle for places in Voigt’s team.

At AfroBasket 2013, Nigeria crashed out in the quarter-finals following a nail-biting 64-63 loss to Senegal and would go on to finish seventh.

Looking at Voigt’s selection, it becomes clear that it has several options when it comes to its big men. Despite his poor free-throw percentage (50 percent), Lawal looks to be a realistic pick for the American coach.