-As Nigeria Chases Olympics’ Double Glory
Basketball Takes Giant Strides
Nigeria is set to take the world by storm with extended impact in basketball, as the male senior team, D’Tigers will line out at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while the female team, D’Tigress are equally seeking a ticket to the global sports showpiece. In BIG STORY this week, SportsDay’s basketball expert, LEKAN ADEDEJI serves details of the giant strides lined up for Nigerian basketball in the year 2016…
D’Tigers qualified for Rio 2016 after impressive performance in Rades, Tunisia last year, when they won the AfroBasketball for the first time in history.
They only lost a game to Tunisia in the group stage which made them place second in the group fortunately they conquered all their opponents in the final round and they were crowned kings of Africa Basketball after defeating Angola 74-65.
Nigeria will play against countries like United State, Brazil, Australia, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania, China and any of Turin, Philippines Pasay and Serbia Belgrade.
The men’s basketball which was added to the sports program in 1936 has only four countries that have captured Olympic gold, led by the USA (1936-1968, 1976, 1984, 1992-2000, 2008-12), the former Soviet Union (1972, 1988), Yugoslavia (1980) and Argentina (2004). The USA’s streak of seven-straight gold medals won from 1936 through 1968 is the record for consecutive gold medals won in traditional team sports.
D’Tigers are generally considered to be one of the best national basketball teams in the FIBA Africa zone, along with Angola and Senegal, they are ranked 24th in the FIBA World Rankings.
The Nigeria team is the only African nation to ever qualify for the Olympics through the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This was accomplished at the 2012 Event when they beat the world elite teams of Lithuania and Greece.
They finished the group play with a 1–4 record, with their victory coming against Tunisia, making the first ever Olympic game the first ever Olympic victory.
Fortunately, the crop of players in the team is majorly foreign based players who played in renowned clubs in Europe, these are Umeh Michael of Ironi Nahariya, Israel, Diogu Ike of Dongguan Leopards, China, Aminu Al-Farouq of Portland Trail Blazers, United States, Olasewere Jamal of Pallacanestro Virtus Roma, Italy, Oguchi Chamberlain of KK Włocławek , Poland, Okoye Stan of Pallacanestro Varese, Italy, Ogide Andy of Poitiers Basket 86, Spain, Gbinije Michael of Syracuse Orange, United States and Lawal Olaseni of FC Barcelona Basquet, Spain as well as Uzoh Ben who plays for Lagos Islanders in Nigeria.
Their women counterparts, D’Tigress who are to play Olympic Qualifying Tournament scheduled for June competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in basketball, they earned their berth through a zone qualifying tournament and played in Group A along with Australia, Brazil, Greece, Japan, and Russia.
The team went 0–5 in the preliminary round. In the 11/12th place game, they defeated the Korea for a final finish of 11th out of 12 teams. With this win, they became the first women’s African basketball team to win a game at the Olympics.
Their hope of participating at the Olympic depends on their ability to defeat their opponents in France.