Former Nigeria international Ogoh Odaudu has praised the D’Tigers for making it to the semifinals of the 2017 Afrobasket Championship in Tunisia.
Nigeria displayed an outstanding performance in their 106-91 points victory over Cameroon on Thursday to progress to the semi finals four days after losing to DR Congo in their last group game. Odaudu told aclsports.com the loss to DR Congo brought out the best in them.
“It was a great win for us against Cameroon. I think we did pretty well, a lot of our players stepped up their game, every body did their own bits. It wasn’t a one man show . I hope it continues,” he said.
“They have improved, it’s good the loss happened against DR Congo. There is nothing wrong with losing in the group stage. I think the loss made them pick their game. It was a reality check for them.”
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The Rivers Hoopers head coach is confident the D’Tigers have all it takes to overcome their Senegalese opponents in their semi final clash on Friday.
“I have always believed basketball is not played on paper but on the court. Many Nigerians had a mindset that they won’t go far with their poor preparations , many from the last squad turned down the invitation, but look at where we are right now. The game they played yesterday, if they go into today’s game with that same approach it will go in our favour.
With revenge on their minds after losing to Nigeria in the semi final of the 2015 Afrobasket, Odaudu who has faced Senegal trice in the past believes they are not invulnerable.
“Senegal has a grudge against us and we can make sure we use that at our own advantage while we play our normal game. It’s going to be a very close game . Senegal have really prepared for this tournament. They have the best team in the Afrobasket so they want to make a statement. If we play the way we played together yesterday, everyone be your brother’s keeper , we will come out victorious,” Odaudu emphasised.
Odaudu was in the D’Tigers team that beat Senegal in their opening game in 2001 and in the semi finals in 2003 but however lost as an assistant coach to Ayo Bakare in the quarter finals of the 2013 Afrobasket.
” I am scared of them but basketball is not played on paper. On paper they have the best team but look at their quarter final game against Angola, it was a struggle. It shows that they are very beatable . We need the big guys to step up. So far it’s been Ike Diogu doing all the dirty work in the paint. We need all the other big men to step up and give him the assistance that he needs. We won’t have problem with our perimeter players , its inside the paint I am worried about . I am sure the coaching crew know what to do and should have pointed out these areas to them.”
Nigeria will play against Senegal on Friday at 8:30pm while the other semi final game will be between Tunisia and Morocco at 6pm.