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D’Tigers win Peak Invitational, plead for government support

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[FILES] D’Tigers training at the indoor sports hall of the National Stadium, Lagos…Yesterday.


Nigeria yesterday continued their impressive build up to the FIBA World Cup scheduled for China next week when D’Tigers beat Montenegro in the Peak Invitational tournament.Despite shooting to an 8-5 points lead in the opening minutes of the game, the team lost the first quarter by 16-18 points against a Montenegro side ranked 28.

The second quarter was no different as Montenegro stretched the lead to eight points with the quarter ending 36-44 points.The second half took a different turn with master class performances from Ike Diogu, Ike Iroegbu and Jordan Nwora, who were desperate to end their World Cup preparation on a winning note.

Nigeria took the lead and held on to it for the better part of the game as the D’Tigers, ranked 33 in the world, defeated Montenegro, 89-86 points.
Jordan Nwora led the team scorers’ chart with 19 points while Ike Iroegbu weighed in with 18 points. Captain Ike Diogu contributed 13 points, while the duo of Ekpe Udoh and Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 points respectively.

During the pre-World Cup preparation, Nigeria (ranked 33) have beaten – Dominican Republic (twice) ranked 18 and Canada (No. 23).Speaking after yesterday’s game, Coach Alex Nwora said ending their preparation for the Mundial with the victory was very important for the team’s confidence.Nwora added: “Getting the win against Montenegro who on paper are way above Nigeria is a good step in the right direction. It shows that weeks of training have continued to yield the desired results for us as a team.”

The experienced coach who will be making his World Cup debut alongside all the players left in camp believed that the team has continued to improve, which may have caught the attention of their group B opponents.While the squad is working hard for success at the World Cup, things are not right financially with the teams and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) are at its wits end looking for solution to a problem caused by lack of government support to the country’s ambition in China.

It is less than six days to the World Cup and the NBBF hopes the elusive government support will come in time for the D’Tigers.Speaking to journalists in Abuja after the presentation of the 2019 FIBA Women’s Afrobasket trophy to the new Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, the NBBF President, Musa Kida said the boys were focused on the task ahead.

“The fact that the men have already gone to China is a very good sign that they are now confident just like I am confident as the NBBF President that we are going to get some help from government.”Although he admitted that the task of prosecuting the 2019 FIBA World Cup is daunting, Kida said the NBBF was focused on forging ahead and achieving results that Nigerians will be proud of.“I think I will just put it to rest at this time that we will just forge ahead. We will keep our eyes on the ball and make sure we play well.”

On what the federation is doing to internally generate funds for its programmes and the National teams, Kida said, “We are so far flaunting our results and we do have entreaties from more than 2 sponsors who are saying they will come to us.”He lamented the sponsorship culture in Nigeria, which has continued to make it difficult for the NBBF to attract the sponsorship backing from corporate organizations despite the strings of successes recorded since the board took over in 2017.

“I think the general culture of sponsorship in the country needs to be remodified and needs to be reformatted so as to encourage those who really sponsor and see value in sponsorship”, Kida said.Nigeria will face Argentina, Russia and Korea in Group B.


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