D’Tigers’ camp opens in Monastir with 15 players
• NBBF satisfied with D’Tigress’ Olympics preparations
Nigeria Men’s Basketball national team, D’Tigers, will start training with 15 players in Monastir, Tunisia this week ahead of the final window of the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket qualifiers billed to dunk off on February 17 and end on February 21.
According to the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), world basketball governing body, FIBA has disclosed that the third and last window of the championship would hold in a bubble, which is a protected environment, to ensure the health and safety of all participants in this second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The qualifiers will be played in two countries, Tunisia and Cameroun with Groups A, D and E made up of 12 teams to fight for tickets in Monastir, while Groups B and C will lock horns in Yaoundé from February 19 to 21.
The unbeaten Nigerian team, which dominated the second round of the qualifiers in Rwanda last year, is grouped with South Sudan, Mali and Rwanda in Group D.
National teams that finish in the first three places of each group will qualify for the 30th edition of African basketball championship, scheduled for the Rwandan capital of Kigali from August 24 to September 5, 2021
The NBBF has officially confirmed coach Mfon Udofia to lead D’Tigers to the 2021 Afrobasket qualifiers. Udofia, who joined the senior men’s national team’s technical crew just before the 2019 FIBA World Cup, will fill in for Head Coach, Mike Brown, who is currently on coaching duties with the Golden State Warriors of U.S.
Speaking to The Guardian ahead of the Afrobasket qualifier, NBBF Vice President, Babs Ogunade, said every player invited for the qualifiers is experienced and poised to give a good account of himself in Tunisia.
He added, “NBBF is not facing any pressure because the players and coaches are credible and eager to grab the ticket.” Ogunade also disclosed the federation’s satisfaction with the D’Tigress’ one week camping in Atlanta, U.S., which ended at the weekend.
He disclosed that the body is planning other training camps in different locations, including Nigeria, before the Olympics commences.
“We are trying to ensure the Olympics preparations do not affect the players’ club engagements,” he said.
Yesterday, the NBBF listed the players selected for the camp to include six new players based in France.
The new players are Ifeoluwa Ajayi (Hermine Nantes), Said Hearst-Okpalannaka (Antibas) and Nwachukwu Moneke, who may make their international debut for Nigeria after they were handed an invitation alongside a member of the 2017 Afrobasket silver winning team, Ike Nwamu (Cholet).
Spain-based shooting guard, Obinna Emegano with Fuenlabrada makes a return to the team alongside Ben Uzoh.
Ike Diogu was also not left out of the team alongside Ike Iroegbu who emerged as one of the top performers during the last qualifying series averaging 15.7 points as Nigeria dominated group B.
Turkey-based power forward, Abdul-Malik Abu and Michael Oguine will also team up with Michael Gbinije and Caleb Agada.
Some other players have also been put on notice pending the conclusion and outcome of players’ registration by the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA).
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