The “D’Tigers’’ will play in the next window of the FIBA (Africa) World Cup qualifiers with the same vigour with which they played in previous rounds, an official has assured.
Adamu Deshi, the Technical Director of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), gave the assurance while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Deshi told NAN that while the Nigerian male basketball team had already qualified for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, hunger and quest for further success should be sustained to avoid complacency.
“We can’t give an impression that the players have automatically made the final list just because they played in the team that earned us qualification.
“We have to create competition and avoid complacency. Our participation in the final round of qualifiers is part of the team’s building process” he said.
NAN reports that Nigeria became the first country to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup after the third window of qualifiers decided in Lagos in 2018.
Deshi, however, said the feat did not diminish the importance of the final round of qualifiers.
“We are not going to Cote D’Ivoire to make up the numbers or just for participation sake.
“Basketball in Nigeria is a work in progress and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
NAN reports that team head coach Alex Nwora had on Jan. 14 released a list of 15 players invited for the last window of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifiers.
The qualifiers will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from Feb. 18.
The list, curiously dominated by players who were making a comeback having missed previous rounds of qualifiers, also has a good number of debutantes.
Nwora said the purpose was to give players equal opportunities to fight for a place in final World Cup squad.
This position was echoed by the technical director, adding that it was part of the NBBF team-building process.
“What the coach has done is to instill competitiveness by inviting players who missed out on the previous windows, either due to injuries or club engagements, to come and fight for a chance in the World Cup squad proper.
“We are trying to build a team and doing so is not a straight-jacket thing. At the end of the day, the technical crew will select players who deserve to be on the team to represent the nation.
“We can’t say because we have qualified, then we already have our team ready from the list of players who participated in the previous qualifiers,’’ Deshi said.
He assured basketball-loving Nigerians that the NBBF would make everything possible for the national team to have a successful outing.
“The board is working round the clock to ensure that the team participate successfully in the final round of qualifiers.
“The coach has submitted a list of players invited for the event and we are making preparations for the team’s success,” the federation technical director said.
The “D’Tigers”, currently ranked number 33 in the world and number one in Africa, have already booked a place in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The mundial will be held in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.