D’Tigers opened their 2021 Afrobasket campaign with a win over Mali. A good start for the Nigeria men’s basketball team following a winless run of three games which saw them exit the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the group stage.
The game which was played at the Kigali Arena, Rwanda saw the 2019 silver medalists pick up a controlled 81-73 win over Mali in their first game of the tournament.
D’Tigers came into Rwanda with a completely different roster from the one which executed the Tokyo Olympics last month, including four home-based players.
Wednesday’s starting five included: Captain Stephen Domingo, Ben Emelogu, Ike Ndugba, Emmanuel Omogbo and Daniel Utomi.
Nigeria started the brighter side completely dominating the first quarter and opening a 16 point gap to win Q1 28-12. But like we saw at the Olympics, D’Tigers allowed the Malians back into the game as they closed the gap to make it a one point game going into the break. Mali took Q2 16-31 comfortably.
Returning from the half time break, D’Tigers stepped it up once more to extend their one point lead to 18 points at the end of the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Mali rallied back taking that one by 10 points but their efforts wasn’t enough to close up the 18 point lead from Q3 as Nigeria won 81-73.
Emelogu was the top performer for Nigeria on the day with 18 points including 6 three pointers, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Captain Domingo came in second with 16 points (4 treys), 5 rebounds and 2 assists; while Utomi was also not left out of the party with 15 points, all shots from behind the arc, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Next up for Nigeria is Kenya by 2pm on Friday.
Photo Credit: FIBA