D’Tigers head coach Alex Nwora has said the friendly games played against Cote d’Ivoire at the weekend will help prepare his players ahead of the big task in Lagos.
Nigeria will take on Rwanda, Uganda and Mali in the third FIBA window of the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to take place this weekend.
Of the two games played in Abidjan, D’Tigers lost 66-68 to Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday but bounced back to win 79-60 the next day. The team will return to Nigeria on Monday to play Benin Republic before they host the Group B Qualifiers on Friday June 29- July 1.
Nwora said,”It was not easy playing against Ivory Coast in Tunisia at the Afrobasket last year. It was a very good test for us at the weekend and would help us come home to defend our home turf.”
On the nine new players invited to camp, Nwora said the best will be selected for this window as well as the crucial games in September.
“It’s a national team and then we are going to see who is going to contribute a lot and help us advance in September. This is not the only window we have there are so many other windows. It’s a chance to see everybody before we make the final list,” he told ACLSports
The former Cape Verde coach hopes his team can withstand the pressure from the home crowd this weekend.
“Its going to be tough and not easy to prepare them for what they will see. Most of them it’s their first time coming to Nigeria. I know we are going to feel the love if we do what we supposed to do. It is also a great experience for me to coach in front of my country. Some of them are very excited, some are a bit tensed up. I think after the first game we will be more relaxed.”
Ben Uzoh, Sane Lawal and Alade Aminu are yet to arrive camp while Michael Efevberha will play no part in this window due to some personal reasons.
“Definitely Efevberha will be missed, when you have someone who brings a lot to the table like he does then you know he will be missed this window. God willing he will be available for the next window.
“We are taking a look at a lot of players and build our brand which is the national team. The NBBF want to build our brand, local league etc and I am happy to be part of it. We have the opportunity to have the best players on court come September window. It’s a do or die for most of the countries especially Nigeria putting a lot to make sure we are in China 2019. Not just to be there but to finish on the podium.”