Nigeria’s D’Tigers bounced back with a 72-59 win over Central African Republic in the last round of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Abidjan on Saturday.
Ike Diogu led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds, Ikenna Iroegbu scored a double-double 17 points,10 rebounds and three assists while Mike Umeh added 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.
Unlike Friday against Cote d’Ivoire, D’Tigers got up to a bright start leading 10-2 in the early minutes but was later tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter by Central African Republic.
D’Tigers who scored just one three pointer in the previous game made 2/2 in the first quarter and later made it 4 of 13 at the end of the first half. Iroegbu shot 3/5 from the arc out of the 10 three pointers scored by the D’Tigers in the game.
Nigeria were however guilty of 28 turn overs in the game compared to 16 committed by the Central African Republic.
Johndre Jefferson scored 16 points for CAF who made 33.93 % on shooting and 17/29 from the line.
D’Tigers came back stronger in the third quarter 21-15 and took a 13 points lead to the final quarter 53-40 as they held on for a victory and ended CAF’s chance of qualifying for the World Cup.
The result means Central African Republic will not be able to make it to China no matter what happens in their last game on Sunday as the last World Cup ticket will be taken by either Cote d’Ivoire or Cameroon.
After the game D’Tigers head coach Alex Nwora was proud of his boy’s performance and hopeful of a victory against Senegal on Sunday.
“I am proud of what my boys did today and I want to congratulate them for the win. I am happy we were able to bounce back from yesterday’s defeat and we fought hard for the victory. Yesterday’s game is one you don’t want to remember and you just have to get a win any way you can and good we were able to do it today. I hope we can come out with the same intensity against Senegal tomorrow.”
“We will take it one game at a time, go through our game plan and come up with something to compete and hopefully we will come out good,” Nwora said
Meanwhile, Iroegbu said the team is still getting back to full fitness but expressed excitement at picking up a win.
“We just knew we had to forget about yesterday’s loss and all that happened and so we had to come out better today. We are still a little rusty but I am proud we were able to bounce back”