D’Tigers won their second match at the ongoing 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Championship on Tuesday as they defeated a plucky Kenyan side 71-55. The Nigerian started with the five of Omotayo Ogundiran, Emelogu, Emmanuel Omogbo, Ikenna Ndugba, and Jeremiah Mordi.
They took the first quarter 20-8 but the Kenyans fought back in the second and took it 18-14. The third was very tight but ended in Nigeria’s favour 15-13. The Nigerians started the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead which they increased to 16 at the end.
Uzodinma Utomi led the scoring from the bench; pouring in 17 points. He made five of 13 three-point attempts and contributed two offensive and defensive rebounds while playing 30 minutes.
Mordi added 10 points while three D’Tigers- Tarekeyi Andrew Edogi, Ndugba, and Ogundiran contributed nine points each and the Kenyans committed 28 turnovers.
In the post-match press conference, D’Tigers’ coach, Mike Brown was asked how he and his players are coping with many people not believing in the team because most of the main players-the team that went to the Olympics are absent in Kigali.
“We are not trying to make people believe in us because we believe in them. We believe in us and that is all that matters,” Brown stated matter of factly.
“If people don’t want to believe us, that is okay. We haven’t played well; we didn’t play well today. We played better in the second half I thought as a team. even in the first game, we didn’t do that well even though I think we played better than today.
“We can be better. We believe in ourselves. We feel we can continue to get better as the tournament goes along,” Brown added.
When asked about the point where Kenya reduced the deficit to 10 in the third quarter, D’Tigers’ forward, Benjamin Emelogu said they had to come together as a team and re-focus. “We had to get back to what we do best; that is move the ball, play as a team and make sure we get stops.
We did that, increased the lead, and came out with the win.”
Brown also stated that the best his players can do when the opponents stiffen their defence is to drive the ball. “When the defence stiffens up or gets a little tighter or better-all we have to do is drive the basketball.
“Because when we drive the basketball, the defence will collapse,” added Brown.
Nigeria’s next match is against Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, August 29, in what could be the decider for who tops Group C.
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