Nigeria senior men’s national team, D’Tigers survived a late scare to beat Cote d’Ivoire 84-73 in their Group F opener of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers on Friday in Lagos.
Obi Emegano (15), Ike Diogu (13), Al-Farouq Aminu (11), Ike Iroegbu (11), Ike Nwamu (11) all finished on double digit points.
D’Tigers led from the start 19-21 in the first quarter, stretched it by 9 points heading to break (32-41) and increased it further to 16 points (48-64) at the end of the third quarter.
With 2:59 remaining, the Ivorians were able to reduce the deficit to 3 points (72-75) but a 2-9 run ensured the D’Tigers survived the late scare and remain unbeaten (7-0) in the Qualifiers.
After the game, D’Tigers head coach Alex Nwora attributed their hard fought victory to limited time they had to prepare for the tournament.
“Ivorians are well coached and we have played against them a couple of times including the last window. We are familiar with what they do and they too are familiar with what we do.”
“We had a short preparation, first time some of the guys are playing full court together. Some just returned to the national team. We played together for the first time against Rwanda in a friendly on Wednesday. We will work on our errors and prepare for the next game,” Nwora said
D’Tigers returnee, Al-Farouk Aminu said it’s all about getting the job done.
“I started playing for the national team since 2012. It’s about winning for us, nobody is going to win for us if we are losing or we are behind by 30 points. Definitely we won’t score up to a hundred points like you all expect every game. A lot of us have not been around and it’s the first time we are playing together. Whether it’s ugly or not we have to find ways to win those games.”
D’Tigers will next play against Central Africa Republic on Saturday.
In other Group F games, Gorgui Dieng scored 28 points to lead Senegal past Rwanda 94-89 while Mali edged Central Africa Republic 66-65 after the latter surrendered a 17 point lead.