The Nigerian men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, gave their Olympic qualification push a big boost on Wednesday as they defeated South Korea 108-66 points at the ongoing FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
Wednesday’s win is the first for the D’Tigers who had suffered narrow losses in their first two games against Russia and Argentina.
The defeats against Russia and Argentina meant Nigeria could not qualify for the second round at the World Cup. But D’Tigers have a chance to book an automatic slot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics if they finish as the continent’s top finisher in China.
D’Tigers had a slow start in their final group game, as the Koreans went on a 5-0 run for the first three minutes of the game before they caught up to close out the first quarter 15-17 points.
Captain of the team, Ike Diogu, further helped Nigeria extend the lead with 15 points in 17 minutes performance.
Every player in the Nigerian team made a point with Michael Eric leading all scorers with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Before the tie against Korea, the Nigeria Basketball Federation President, Musa Kida, said finishing at the World Cup as the highest placed African team is a major catch for the team who are motivated to book an automatic 2020 Olympic Games ticket through the World Cup.
He said: “Clearly for us, the qualification through the World Cup is still there and if we beat Korea, I am sure we will be coming out as the best performing African country in the World Cup and it will give us an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics.”
D’Tigers were at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and are now on course for a return in Tokyo for 2020.
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