• As Tijjani’s faction applauds FIBA
Coach of D’Tigers, Alex Nwora, has said he will be relying on the quality leadership and experience of team captain, Ike Diogu, for a successful prosecution of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualification, as the second phase of the African qualifiers dunk off in Lagos on June 28.
Nwora stated that Diogu, who was co-captain of the 2015 Afrobasket winning team in Tunisia and also led D’Tigers to another silver finish last year at the Africa championship, is a pillar that holds the current young D’Tigers team together.“Diogu knows that we have an unfinished business and he has embraced the leadership role as the captain of the D’Tigers. He is the foundation that holds us together,” he said.
Having won three games so far with three more to go in the preliminary group phase of the qualifiers, Nwora is optimistic that the Sichuan Blue Whales of China power forward, who was named the most valuable player of the 2017 Afrobasket can provide the needed experience for the relatively young team.
“Hopefully, he is going to keep leading these young players that are coming to the national team for the first time, teach them the right way and a very good way to represent Nigeria like he has been doing over the years, “ the coach added.Nigeria will begin their World Cup campaign on June 29 when it battles Uganda at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos, before facing Rwanda and Mali on June 30 and July 1.
Meanwhile, the Tijjani Umar faction of the Nigeria Basketball Federation has commended FIBA for giving Nigeria the nod to host the 2019 World Cup qualifiers.In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday, the body, rising from a board meeting on June 19, stated that without prejudice to FIBA’s directive regarding Nigeria’s participation at in international tournaments organised by the body, “we thank FIBA for granting Nigeria opportunity to host this all important third window of the World Cup qualifiers. We appreciate that in spite of our current turbulent situation within the NBBF, FIBA continues to believe in our maturity and patriotism, to the extent that they would still trust us with hosting a tournament such as this, at this time.
“We assure FIBA that this trust is not misplaced, and we pledge our unflinching support to the success of this tournament. We congratulate Nigerians, who are getting the chance to watch our dear national team play live in front of our own fans in this important tournament.
“Many have followed the groundbreaking exploits of the team over the years, from our historic back to back Olympic qualifications, to our Afrobasket championship, to our recent thrilling exploits during the World Cup qualifiers, and longed for a chance to see our team play live. That moment has arrived and at this time, we urge all Nigerians to set aside all differences, which could divide us, and unite with one accord to cheer our team to victory at this tournament.”