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D’Tigers In Quest For Elusive Afrobasket Title

Posted: Aug 4, 2015 at 12:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu  –  Lagos


“I know that the players are determined for something great and have vowed to do the nation proud when the championship kicks off…”

These were the words of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) President, Tijani Umar, when he was reacting to the preparedness of national team, D’Tigers, to go beyond its second place finishing of 1997, 1999 and 2003 in this year’s championship in Tunisia, starting from August 19.

Ranked 3rd in Africa and 24th in the world, D’tigers debuted in the Afrobasket in 1972 in Senegal, where it placed 12th after the championship. It missed the next two editions in 1974 and 1975 in Central Africa Republic and Egypt respectively before returning to the continent in 1978 in Senegal, placing 6th.

In all, D’Tigers has participated in the Afrobasket 16 times, with its best finishing coming in 1997, 1999 and 2003 in Senegal, Angola and Egypt respectively.

In 1997, Nigeria lost 69-48 to host, Senegal. The same was the case in 1999, where the Nigerian side lost to host, Angola, 79-72. When Egypt hosted the championship in 2003, the Angolan side beat D’Tigers 85-65 to win the tournament. Overall, Nigeria has won both silver and bronze medals three times apiece.

Pooled in group A alongside Tunisia, Uganda and Central Africa Republic, D’Tigers is expected to have an easy ride, though, with Tunisia as a major threat.

Before this year’s Afrobasket, D’Tigers has met Tunisia four times in the same tournament. In 1972, Tunisia won Nigeria 96-52 in Group A. In 1987, the two sides were again pooled together in Group A with the North Africans winning 79-64. It was a similar scenario in 1999 when Tunisia, once again, humbled Nigeria 71-56. The two sides were in Group 2. Their last meeting at this level was in 2005 with Nigeria pinning Tunisia by 78-65.

While Uganda is making its debut, Central Africa Republic has met Nigeria in five previous occasions with the latter winning all.

In 1997, Nigeria defeated CAR 77-57 in Group A. In 2001, the two countries were pooled in Group B with Nigeria winning 59-56. In 2003, they both returned to Group A with Egypt, Mozambique, Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire. Nigeria won 69-64.

In 2005, they met in the quarter-final with Nigeria emerging victorious with 63-51 points. Also in 2013, Nigeria defeated Central Africa Republic in the round of 16 with 112-75 points.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that Tunisia and Nigeria are the two most experienced sides in the group and will supposedly have no problem dispatching the other two countries.

With players like Olumide Oyedeji, Chamberlain Oguchi, Oseni Lawal, Ike Diogu and Yahaya Abdul, among others, it is obvious that D’Tigers is filled to the tilt to go all the way in Tunisia.

According to NBBF Media Officer, Patrick Omorodion,” the Federation will do everything possible for D’Tigers to perform very well in Tunisia.

“They will depart Paris for Tunis on August 15 for the Afrobasket which holds from August 19 to 30 and I’m sure after that, we will be expecting much from them.”

On his own, newly appointed coach of the team, William Voig, said:

“I am confident that D’ Tigers will be successful. We are here to lead them and represent the country well. We have wonderful group of people and we shall try our best to win every match we play and again represent the country in the best way we can.”

Also, captain of the side and Mark Mentors of Abuja forward, Stanley Gumut, has tipped his side for glory in Tunisia, saying D’Tigers is in good frame of mind to dethrone Angola.

“Things will be different this time because we’ve started preparation early for the tournament. We know what we have to do to get the title.

“I’m not saying we’re underrating our opponents, which would be a mistake on anyone’s part. What I’m emphasising is that I believe we’re stronger than before because we’ve played together for some months before going into the crucial Afrobasket.”

Also speaking, former coach of the team, Ayodele Bakare, urges support for the team. “We must set aside all our differences (if any) and unite behind this team and this crew.

“On my part, I will continue to be unflinching and vociferous in my support for the team,” he continued.”

It is obvious that the big game in the group is the match between Nigeria and Tunisia. According to Diogu, “Tunisia will be tough nuts to crack, but I’m tipping D’Tigers to overcome them.”