A key member of the Nigeria men’s national basketball team, D’Tigers, Ike Diogu, has expressed delight at the renewed chance for the D’Tigers to rub shoulders with the best teams in the world at the Tokyo Olympics.
While Nigeria still needs to wait a few more weeks before they can fully know who their other two opponents would be in the group stage of the men’s basketball event, Diogu is certain the country will be playing against formidable teams.
“It’s just like the World Cup,” he said, with Nigeria in Group B with Australia and qualifiers from Serbia and Croatia.
“I don’t think there are any easy draws, every team we are going to play it’s going be really good. These are the 12 best teams in the world. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
And facing top-ranked teams in the Olympics is nothing new for Nigeria, who currently register a 2-8 record in the history of the competition. Diogu recorded his second Rio Olympics double-double in a 90-76 victory over Croatia
“Our first opponent is going to be Australia, which is a top-five team in the world. We’re looking forward to seeing who the next two opponents are going to be as well,” said the 37-year-old power forward.
“Australia are a good team and an experienced team, it’s a good challenge for us, it’s a very good group to be in. We won’t know who the other opponents are until later on, but in the Olympics, every draw you’re going to get is going to be tough.”
Teams competing in the OQT in Split, Croatia include Brazil, hosts Croatia, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Tunisia. Battling it out in the Belgrade OQT will be Dominican Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Senegal and hosts Serbia.
Any of the above teams can join Nigeria in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics which will be the country’s third straight Olympics appearance dating back to 2012.
Though some wholesale changes are happening across the rank and file of D’Tigers, many are confident Diogu will make the roster if he stays healthy, having a strong chance of becoming a three-time Olympian in Tokyo.
“We are really happy to be in the Olympics and we are happy with whatever draw we have,” said the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket Most Valuable Player.
Diogu continued: “We feel really good about our group. This should be the best group that Nigeria has had, and whoever we play against we are going to be excited.
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