Nigeria D’Tigers won their first game of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China with 108-66 points’ defeat of South Korea in Wuhan on Wednesday. Though the win did not qualify the team for the knock out stage having lost their first two games to Russia 77-82 and Argentina 94-81.
Power Forward, Michael Eric, came from the bench to pour in 17 points including nine rebounds in a game he made seven of his eight field goals and three of four from the charity line.
Ike Diogu, who has not done well in the tournament shot 16 points, grabbing six rebounds, while Chimezie Metu, who also came from the bench poured in 15 points including nine rebounds, and a rebound. Point Guard Ben Uzoh added 10 points and a rebound.
The trio of Al Farouq Aminu (9), Nnamdi Vincent (9) and Stan Okoye (9) contributed 27 points, with Okoy crashing the board five times. Aminu also grabbed five rebounds, while Vincent grabbed two rebounds.
“We played a lot better today (Wednesday),” says Coach Alex Nwora after the game, adding that inexperience was the team greatest on doing at the tournament.
“In experience killed us,” was his response when asked why the team failed to make it to the second round.
“This is a very young team, we made rookie mistakes and these mistakes killed us.
Meanwhile, D’Tigers camp went into frenzy after Tunisia lost their last group game 64-67 to Puerto Rico and failed to qualify for the second round.
Had they won the game, they would have been the only African team to reach the knock out stage and subsequently pick the 2020 Olympic Games reserved for the best African team at the World Cup.
“If Tunisia has qualified, it means beating Korea with over 40 points was useless,” said Ogoh Odaudu, D’Tigers assistant coach.
With Tunisia failure, it means all the African teams at the World Cup stand a chance of winning the ticket provided they win their two classification games.
Nigeria will play the fourth placed Group A team in Guangzhou which is Cote d’ Ivoire while South Korea that placed fourth in Group B will play Group A third placed team which is either China or Venezuela.
Angola, Senegal are the other African teams contesting for the only Olympic Games ticket.