Nigeria’s men national basketball team, D’Tigers, finished the 2019 FIBA World Cup on a successful note after beating host nation, China, 86-73 in their final classification game on Sunday, September 8, 2019 in Guangzhou. Victory over the Chinese team in front of their home crowd and supporters means Nigeria has picked the sole African automatic ticket to the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
It was a hard fought victory for the Nigerian side that recorded their third win in the competition and ended up silencing the vociferous Chinese crowd at the Guangzhou Gymnasium. It will be recalled that D’Tigers defeated Cote d’Ivoire 83-66 in their first classification game at the global showpiece on Friday, September 6, 2019 to boost their chances of qualifying for next year’s Olympics.
Coach Alex Nwora named an unchanged starting line-up from the side that defeated Ivory Coast with team captain, Ike Diogu, leading the squad alongside the likes of Aminu Al-Farouq, Ben Uzoh, Ekpe Udoh, and Josh Okogie. For the Nigerian side, Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard, Josh Okogie, emerged the best performer, scoring 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks for D’Tigers. After a 21-19 points defeat in the first quarter, the West Africans fought really hard to finish the first-half as winners, 35-31.
The second-half would see the Nigerian team fight off a tough Chinese side to win the game with an 86-73 score line. D’Tigers has now booked their place in next year’s Olympics after emerging top in the Classification Group M of the 2019 FIBA World Cup with a total of 8 points. China finished with 7 points. South Korea finished third with six points, and fellow West African nation Cote d’Ivoire finished behind South Korea with 5 points.
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