At the recently renovated Indoor Sports Hall, National Stadium Lagos, 19 year old Jordan Nwora struggled to find his feet on day 1 of the qualifiers. Overpowered by the physicality of African basketball he was not used to, he adjusted quickly to become the star two nights later with his dribbles, drives and shooting.
Nwora took care of business on Sunday night ensuring D’Tigers 93-53 victory over Mali, remaining unbeaten in the first round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. He made a game high 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Louisville University student scored back to back dunks in the opening quarter and went ahead to shoot 5/8 three point shots and 23 points before half time.
Ike Diogu added 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists while Tosin Mehinti made 14 points and 5 rebounds in the entire game.
Nwora said “It’s different playing African basketball not what I am used to because of the physicality. Back home I am one of the big guys in my team but here it’s different. It’s something I have to get used to not going to just happen right away.”
“It’s a new experience playing for my dad. I haven’t had the experience to play under him as my coach. I am happy I got the opportunity to play.”
Nianta Diarra had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals while Mahamadou Kante finished with 10 points and 3 assists for Mali.
D’Tigers finished with over 100 points in the last two games but were deprived by the Malian defence with 2 minutes remaining on the clock (91-49).
Nigeria finished with a 6-0 record in the first round of Group B, Rwanda (3-3) and Mali (2-4) while Uganda have been eliminated (1-4). Only top three teams from each group advance to the second round. Others are: Tunisia, Cameroon and Chad in Group A; Angola, Egypt and Morocco in C while Senegal, Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire qualify from Group D.
Africa is the first region to know all of its teams that will battle it out in the 12-team second round of the African Qualifiers.In the second round, teams in Group A will merge with C while teams in Group B will merge with D.
The first legs of the second-round tournament will take place during the fourth window (September 10-18), with the return legs to follow during the fifth window (November 26-December 4) and the sixth window (February 20-28, 2019).
The five best out of the 12 will qualify for the first ever 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China from August 31-September 15, 2019.