The Nigerian national basketball team, D’Tigers, were defeated on Friday by New Zealand in their first men’s preliminary round match at the on-going Commonwealth Games holding in Gold Coast, Australia.
D’Tigers, who are in Pool A alongside hosts Australia, New Zealand and Canada, were dominated throughout the proceedings by the Tall Blacks, as the New Zealand basketball team are referred to.
It was a shocking defeat on the part of D’Tigers, as New Zealand’s head coach Paul Henare was clearly wary of the Nigerian side before the match.
Henara said about D’Tigers to reporters at his pre-match conference: “It has been a tough scout. They have gone into the depths of their talent pool with a few unknown guys here, but for us it is about focusing on ourselves and making sure we are at our best.
“With the short preparation time we have to be at our best knowing that they will be athletic, physical and talented. We have to ensure we have done enough in our preparation to get past them.”
However, the men from Down Under never looked back once they grabbed the lead in the first period, overpowering D’Tigers by 24-15 points.
In the second period, D’Tigers put up a better show but fell short by 20-26 points.
The third period saw the New Zealanders put up an overwhelming display, breezing pass D’Tigers 31-8 points, while the final period ended 22-29 in favour of the Tall Blacks.
New Zealanders were without their major players playing top-flight basketball in the U.S and Europe. Tai and Corey Webster and Isaac Fotu, who are the Tall Blacks the biggest names, were missing since the recent FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
It didn’t seem to affect the team as Thomas Abercrombie, Jordan Ngatai, Finn Delany and Robert Loe delivered top performance for New Zealand.
Azuoma Dike was D’Tigers top performer with 15 points, six rebounds and one assist.
Team captain Ike Diogu managed 12 points and 14 rebounds.
New Zealand also ranked the lowest (38) in Pool A going into the Games.
Australia are ranked 10th, while the other member of the group, Canada, are 23rd in FIBA ranking. Nigeria 32nd, six places ahead of the Tall Blacks.
D’Tigers will look to put their disappointing start behind them as they take on Canada in their second Pool Game on Saturday at the Cairns Convention Centre at 5:00am Nigerian time.
Canada earlier lost 55-95 to hosts Australia in the other Pool A game earlier decided.