18th September, 2017
Basketball stakeholders have commended the silver winning senior national basketball men’s team, D’Tigers, for their performance at the just concluded Senegal-Tunisia 2017 Afrobasket Championship.
The stakeholders in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday called for early preparation of the team towards the World Cup.
NAN reports that Nigeria’s D’Tigers were defeated by host nation, Tunisia, 65 -77 in the final of the championship, which held from Sept. 8 to Sept. 16 in Tunis.
In spite of the loss at the final, Nigeria currently occupies the first position in the FIBA world ranking for African teams.
The team recorded four wins out of the six matches played with the team’s captain, Ike Diogu emerging as the Most Valuable Player award winner for the competition.
Giogu’s team mate, Ikenna Iroegbu, was one of the best players in the tournament along with Mohamed Hadidane(Tunisia), Mourad El Mabrouk (Tunisia) and Gorgui Dieng(Senegal).
The Musa Kida-led Nigeria Basketball Board Federation (NBBF) also were praised for their efforts in the short time of putting the team together.
However, some stakeholders blamed the loss at the final to the drop of 14 players from the victorious 2015 team.
The stakeholders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that inadequate preparations also affected the performance of the team and called for better preparations ahead of the world cup qualifications.
Femi Adefeso, a sports analyst, told NAN that the team had done well reaching the final but it was obvious in the final that Tunisia was the better prepared team.
“We played very well but fell due to the over dependence on Ike Diogu, the team captain, who was astonishing in the championship.
“Perhaps a few players from the victorious 2015 set could have made a big difference because of their experience but it is indeed a big lesson for future competitions.
“The NBBF board must be conscious of the fact that good preparations can engineer a perfect tournament as it is obvious that Nigeria is not lacking in quality in basketball,’’ Adefesao said.
Also, Adedamilola Adedotun of Bball Nija said that the team did well but were little short of firing power as compared to the Tunisians.
He urged the NBBF to open camp early in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers and ensure that more players are invited in order to select the very best to represent Nigeria.
“The team did well considering it was the first time for most of the players in the African championship; however there is no excuse for failure.
“Going ahead to the World Cup qualifications, there should be early camping in order for players to come and fight for jerseys.
“Overall, I congratulate the players and their coaching crew for their efforts; they did not let the nation down perhaps next edition they will do better,’’ Adedotun said.
Speaking in the same vein, Dapo Ajeniya, a fan of D’Tigers, said that the team was simply unlucky against the Tunisians after putting up a splendid performance against the Senegalese in the semifinals.
“One was hoping that D’Tigers would do what the female senior team, D’Tigress, achieved in Mali when they defeated Senegal in the final to become Africa Queens.
“We should shift our focus to the World cup preparations and hopefully invite more players without any form of bias and sentiments; the best players should represent us,’’ Ajeniya said.
NAN reports that the 2019 World Cup preparations on the FIBA calendar is to begin on Nov. 20