5th September, 2011
Players of the Nigerian senior national team, the Dâ€™Tigers, have expressed sadness over their inability to secure the sole Olympic ticket available for Africa at the just concluded 2011 Afrobasket in Madagascar.
Derrick Obasohan, who had a disappointing semi-final game against Angola, but led Dâ€™Tigers with 19 points against Ivory Coast in third place match, expressed the teamâ€™s disappointment over their loss to Angola.
â€œIt was really tough to focus after the defeat against Angola. It took the whole of the entire team to accept that we were going to play only for the third place,â€ the American based-player said.
â€œWe aimed for gold and a direct qualification for the Olympics but had to settle for a bronze medal game, which was hard to accept.
â€œIt was so frustrating that despite the good work of the coaching crew and our commitment to the championship, we couldnâ€™t achieve our aim.â€
Obasohan, however, said the coaching crew and psychologists in camp were able to charge them to overcome the Ivoriens.
â€œWith the help of the coaches and motivators, we were made to realise that a place for the Olympic Qualifying tournament was at stake. So we put everything into the third place match and luckily we won.
â€œWe played to preserve our chance to qualify for the Olympic.
â€œThat tells a lot about our team. We are more than a team. We worked like a family in Madagascar,â€ he said.
Also reg re ting their inability to secure the automatic London 2012 Olympic ticket was Olumide Oyedeji,who also plays his professional basketball in the NBA.
Oyedeji said: â€œ It was really sad that we failed to get the ticket right there in Madagascar but we are condemned to make it up at the 12-Nation Olympic Qualifying tournament.â€
The veteran player said though they tried their best to realise their dream of playing at the Olympics but their best was not enough in Madagascar.
Tunisia defeated Angola 67-56 to win the title and also qualified for the London Games.
Angola and Nigeria were only able to qualify for another 12-Nation Olympic Qualifying tournament that will include some Asian countries, by virtue of finishing second and third respectively.
Dâ€™Tigers are already in Maputo, Mozambique for the All Africa Games basketball event. The championship started last Saturday.