Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers ,have been on a roll since 1995, when the team came third in Algeria. Angola won, Senegal came second and D’Tigers beat host Algeria 58-51 in the third-place match.
Between 1995 and 2017- 22 years- D’Tigers have made it to the final five times. They finally won the title in 2015 by beating Angola and made it back-to-back trips to the final in 2017, where they lost to co-hosts Tunisia 77-65 in the final.
In that time, they have also attended three consecutive Olympic Games though they lost all three of their group games in Tokyo at the beginning of the month.
Coach Mike Brown has stayed but his roster for Kigali, starting with the game against Mali on Wednesday, will be very different from the one that competed in Tokyo.
He told NAN, “It’s been a long summer for the players. They came to camp on June 20, went through the Olympics process and asking them to come here to Kigali in Rwanda will be ridiculous.”
Brown also added that the new players were not up to speed. “The new players here are really far behind in what we are trying to do and it is slowing us down a little bit, but we will see when we play in a couple of days.”
Expectations from Kigali
“It’s a totally different team from the team that went to the Olympics so this definitely isn’t our best team possible,” reiterates Femi Adefeso, a basketball enthusiast.
“We have depth in talent is the argument being drawn again but I fear for the inadequate preparation for this AfroBasket because others have been seriously preparing,” Adefeso added.
“Senegal, South Sudan, Cameroon, Angola and defending champions Tunisia who have a largely home based side will have chemistry working for them at the tournament.”
But Adefeso is not totally writing off D’Tigers’ chances in Kigali. “As usual, we will be relying on the resilient Nigerian spirit, hopefully this crop has it to go all the way,” he added.
D’Tigers are the No.1 ranked team in Africa but the recent Power ranking puts Nigeria in seventh place. They begin their campaign against the Mali team by 11 a.m, Nigeria time, on Wednesday, August 25 at the Kigali Centre.
D’Tigers 12-man roster
Omotayo Jordan Ogundiran
Benjamin Anyahukeya Emelogu
Ibe Abuchi Agu
Tarekeyi Andrew Edogi
Victor Anthony Koko
Celestine Joseph Nwafor
Stephen George Domingo
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