Former Nigeria international, Ogoh Odaudu has attributed Nigeria’s loss to Tunisia in the Afrobasket final to fatigue.
Nigeria were on the driving seat in the first two quarters but broke down in the last two quarters, never recovered and eventually lost 77-65 to the hosts.
“We have our major, Ike (Diogu), who played major minutes in our game against Senegal. Ike is not young he is 34 and we can’t expect him to put up a great performance back to back. Also, it was a problem for us and why the coach had to switch to a zone defense which was bad for us and the Tunisians killed us off from there. All in all the team did a great job and Nigerians should be really proud of them.
“Fatigue started setting in and at that point, most of our key players had played major minutes the previous day. None of them played less than 30 minutes, all four IKs played over 30 minutes so fatigue was bound to be a factor. Tunisians started shooting at will off the zone defense, they had good ball movement and were doing all they were supposed to do and their shots started dropping for them in the third quarter that was where the trouble started for us,” Odaudu said.
The Rivers Hoopers head coach thinks the bench didn’t step up when it mattered most.
“I think the bench did not step up enough. It was only Ik Iroegbu and Diogu that were productive with all their tired legs, all other people disappeared. I didn’t notice Daniel Ochefu, etc, every other person disappeared. I think they needed help and didn’t get it at that particular time.”
Odaudu commended Diogu for emerging the most valuable player of the tournament. He also took time to praise other members of the team.
“He was injured and that’s why he didn’t play in the 2015 Afrobasket Championship but was part of the team that won so coming back and going all the way to the finals, missing out narrowly on the gold medal then getting the MVP, It’s a good achievement for him. It doesn’t make up for the Gold but it’s a consolation,” Odaudu said.
Speaking of some of the squad members “First time they played at that level which is one of the most difficult place to play. I think they did a very good job, kudos to them. I hope they are part of our team going forward, world cup qualifier is sometime next year. If we keep this team intact, we wont have problem qualifying for the world cup in China 2019. For me, I think they shut a lot of people up and they overachieved.”
Odaudu played in the 2003 Afrobasket Championship but lost to Angola in the final, understands the feeling of losing a final. He however sends his word of advice to the 2017 D’Tigers squad.
“I lost a final in 2003 in Alexandria in Egypt against Angola. It is a terrible feeling not winning, the only consolation is winning the trophy. The second position does not matter, it’s the champions that are celebrated. They should keep their heads up and not feel bad. They have made Nigeria proud with the late preparation and all that happened before the tournament.
“The most difficult game you can ever play is against the host nation in the final. If it was not for fatigue, the D’Tigers held their own, see how loud the gym was, only the Nigerian bench was cheering for them and nobody else. Others were supporting Tunisia, if it were to be in the group stage, it would have been better to play the host nation but in the final, they are already smelling the trophy, they know it’s within their reach, and so they will do anything to win it,” Odaudu submitted.