Basketball

D’Tigers emerge first African country to qualify for 2019 FIBA World Cup, as they battle Senegal in Lagos

The Central African Republic (CAF) on Saturday became the fifth victim of Nigeria’s dominance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers.

Point guard Ikenna Iroegbu inspired the former African champions to a 114-69 win over CAF to help his country increase their World Cup Qualifiers record to an impressive 8-0.

Iroegbu’s 18 points were the most of six Nigerians who finished in double figures while Johan Grebongo came off the bench to try and spark the Central Africans’ offense with his team-high 17 points. 

Nigeria led all but five minutes, moved the ball better with 20 assists against CAF’s 13, but Nigeria’s rotation set them apart as their bench outscored CAF’s 59-27.

The win was good enough to help Nigeria return to the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

“Even though we had a short training camp – we are professionals, we know how to play the game – all credit to coach [Alex Nwora] for picking great guys to play with,” Iroegbu told FIBA.basketball.

Nwora added: “We work collectively as a group, the more we work together, the better we get, and we showed it today.”

CAF captain Max Kouguere admitted that “it was tough playing against Nigeria. They have experienced players. We did our best in the first half,  but, eventually, we gave up because we have an important game tomorrow.”

Nigeria will play Senegal on Sunday in a bid to extend their World Cup Qualifiers winning streak.

In one of Africa’s highly-anticipated games of the year, high-flying Nigeria host Senegal on Sunday in Lagos.

Nigeria – the No. 1 team on the continent of Africa – won all their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers eight so far, to become the first country to qualify for the China 2019 showdown. 

 Senegal – Africa’s No. 2 team are currently on a seven-game winning streak – and aim to end Nigeria’s dominance.

Each team brings hugely-talented players with the likes of Senegal’s Maurice Ndour, Gorgui Dieng and Hamady Ndiaye just to mention a few, while the Nigerians have assembled their most talented roster since the start of the World Cup Qualifiers in November 2017.

The question now is, can Senegal become the real test to Nigeria and do what other five teams were unable to do?

“I respect everybody,” Nigeria head coach Alex Nwora said. “There is no scare in this game, If you get overconfident you are going to get shot. At this point, I am happy where we are. We try to win every game.”

 The last time these two faced off, Nigeria prevailed, advancing to the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Final.

“They have a very good team, but we believe we are a very good team too. We’ll come up ready, and, hopefully, we can come with a victory” said Senegal center Youssoupha Ndoye. 

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