The senior men's 3x3 National team has been grouped alongside France, Germany and Italy in Group A for a place in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World cup.
The men's team currently ranked 76th in the world and 10th in Africa failed to secure an automatic qualification after falling short of the FIBA Africa Cup title in Benin Republic. They face the 3x3 super powers in San Juan, Puerto Rico between May 4th and 5th.
Despite being the underdogs in the group, the team will hope to defeat world number 25, Germany and Italy ranked 17th on the global ranking table if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for the World Cup.
The FIBA 3x3 Africa Cup 2017 winners will have their hands full when they come up against FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2016 bronze medalists France.
Team captain and Rivers Hoopers Basketball club new recruit, Abdul Yahaya believes the team stand a chance of qualifying for the world cup.
"We learnt vital lessons during the 2018 edition in the Philippines and we hope to bring that to bare when we get to San Juan."
Although, it is not going to be an easy task, we are not going to just fold our arms and let Germany, Italy or France have an easy ride over us."
Group A and B winners automatically qualify for the semifinals while the 2nd and 3rd placed teams will play in the quarterfinals to determine the other 2 semifinalists.
Winners of the semifinals will qualify for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019 holding in Amsterdam, Netherlands between June 18-23.
Losers of the semifinals will play a final game for the final spot.
At the FIBA World Cup finale, the D'Tigers of Nigeria lost to the Lions of Senegal 84-63.
The long awaited rivalry was expected to be tense, hot and competitive. At the end, a winner must emerge.
This defeat pushed Senegal to the World Cup proper, that would be held later this year in China.
Meanwhile, following the loss, Nigerian fans had mixed feelings, despite the fact that the country was the first in Africa to qualify.
Ike Iroegbu was at top form today, securing 28 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Captain Ike Diogu hit 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.
After all said and done, we congratulate both teams for qualifying for the world cup.
Preparations would be geared towards that.
Kudos to coach Alex Nwora, the coaching crew and his boys. More to come and more grounds to break.
In a relief for the Nigerian fans, D'Tigers defeated Central African Federation (CAF), 59-72.
Rowing into the first quarter, the Nigerian side did a 7-0 run, before CAF retaliated; drawing and leading the team at the second quarter.
Very impressive performance by Ike Iroegbu who had a bad day against Ivory Coast. Iroegbu made a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Captain Ike Diogu revved up, scoring 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Point Guard, Michael Umeh aslo stepped up, securing 11 points 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
Finally, Ibe Agu Abuchi stepped on the floor for the first time representing the National team, and hustled defensively, securing a massive block in attempt to wilt the spirits of the opponents. He also added two points at the end of 15 mins play.
Once again, the win gave the Nigerian fans a lot to be proud of.
Last match of the FIBA World Cup Africa qualifiers would be against Senegal tomorrow.
Would Nigeria defeat Senegal?
The senior Men National Basketball Team, D'Tigers lost woefully to the Elephants of host team - Ivory Coast, 46-72.
This came as a shocker to some, while to others, it was considered as a "low-stake" tournament - let alone match - since team Nigeria had already qualified for the main tournament.
Team Nigeria missed so many shot attempts, and added turnovers, whilst team Ivory Coast seized the opportunity to stamped them.
Nigerian Olympian from the Ibekwe family, Ekene rose up in a spectacular display with some rebounds and dunks. Despite making up to eight points, Ekene Ibekwe had the highest efficiency in scoring (57.%) and 10 rebounds.
Captain Ike Diogu ended up with 10 points, out of which eight points were gotten at the foul line.
Team Nigeria faces Central Africa Federation tomorrow.
Despite the absence of some key players who took part in the last FIBA World Cup qualifiers, D’Tigers Head coach, Alex Nwora is still determined more than ever to end the qualifying campaign on a high.
Having recorded nine straight wins so far to become the first country in the world to qualify for the World cup in China with an unbeaten record in the series, Nwora said his mission statement is to lead the team out to represent Nigeria the best way they can.
In the absence of key players such as Al Farouq Aminu, Stanley Okoye, Obinna Emegano, Ike Nwamu and Christopher Obekpa, Nwora said the Technical crew had to dig deep for worthy replacements to fill the void created.
“Since we don’t have all the players who took part in the last window who are familiar with the National team, we are still able to bring a couple of new players who have not played before to fill in the void.”
Nwora has continued to enjoy a career as D’Tigers coach with just 2 losses in all competitive games (against Congo Democratic Republic and Tunisia) since taking charge in 2017. For him, keeping the flag flying and retaining the number one spot in Africa is the ultimate goal.
The 2017 Afrobasket silver winning coach said the team will once again rely on some experienced members when they start their final round of games on Friday against host- Cote d’Ivoire at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Palais des Sports stadium.
“I am fortunate to still have players like Ike Diogu, Deji Akindele, Ike Iroegbu and a couple of players who know my system and coaching philosophy which is giving your best to the great country Nigeria. We just have to make sure that when the light is on, we give it everything we have and show that we are the dominant team in Africa.”
He praised the NBBF leadership under Engr. Musa Kida for changing the narratives and creating an atmosphere conducive for success.
“Everybody wants to play for their country, they are very proud to be here and wear the green white green. With the new federation coming in and doing what they are doing, the players want to come back and play because the condition has been favourable and they are happy to be here.”
Nine African Countries (Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Angola, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia) would be expected to produce 12 teams that will compete at the newly announced Basketball Africa League (BAL).
The league is a new initiative of the NBA in partnership with FIBA.
The first of its kind, in collaboration was made official during the 2019 NBA all-stars game, by the NBA Commissioner (Adam Silver) in the presence of FIBA Africa President (Hamane Niang), NBA Vice President/Managing Director Africa (Amadou Gallo Fall), Charlotte Hornets Chairman (Michael Jordan), Toronto Raptors President (Masai Ujiri), NBA Global Ambassador (Dikembe Motombo) and other top NBA & FIBA officials.
The planned league is scheduled to commence in January 2020.
This is an excellent concept that will further grow the game within the Continent and give players more & better options.