With just 16 days to the commencement of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, D’Tigers Head Coach, Alex Nwora says picking the last 12 players from the 15 players left in camp will be the hardest job to do.
A total of 44 players were invited to camp in the US but were pruned down to 15 before the team arrived Lagos for the final phase of camping.
Speaking to journalists after the team’s first training session in Lagos, Nwora said despite all the 44 players on the preliminary list being good enough to be at the world cup, the Technical Crew can only pick 12 players to represent the country.
“The players that have lasted this long are those I think can help us to put up a good fight at the world cup. All the people we invited to camp can really play, but unfortunately, we have to go with the best and we are still figuring that out the 12 we can put on the floor for our first game against Russia.”
For him, being in camp since 7th of July and playing 4 grade A friendlies with fellow world cup bound teams has been very productive as he thanked the NBBF board led by Engr. Musa Kida for the usual support.
“At this point, the preparation we have embarked upon since the 7th of July has been very productive for us. I want to thank the federation and the president, Engr Musa Kida for making it possible to start our preparations earlier.”
Despite targeting a podium finish, Nwora is not carried away by the ranking recently released by experts which placed the team in number eight spot out of the 32 nations expected to compete.
“Ranking means little for me. We have a goal of being one of the teams on the podium at the end of the tournament. Ranking is great, but that is not where we want to be. We want to be number one if we can and that is what we are working towards.”
He said the rating which has thrown many people into a state of frenzy is nothing but just the result of the permutation of few people which is not a reflection of his mission in China.
“The ranking is just for egos. We appreciate it, but that is not our goal. We won’t take anybody for granted. We will go there and fight and make Nigerians proud.”
The coach said his players are focused on the task ahead which is representing the country well.
D’Tigers are grouped alongside Argentina, Russia and Korea in Group B and will play all their group games in Wuhan.
The World Cup starts on Saturday August 31st.