Nigeria’s men’s basketball national team, D’Tiges’ coach, Alex Nwora has disclosed that he is very happy to commence preparations for the 2019 FIBA World Cup early, starting with the last leg of the qualifiers.
Although D’Tigers have already qualified, they will still compete in the qualifiers billed for Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from February 22 to 24, and Nwora says he is excited with the opportunity to watch his wards.
Ahead of the competition, Nwora has already invited 15 players, with the roster dominated by those that missed the last phase in Lagos.
The team’s captain, Ike Diogu, from Sichuan Blue Whales of China, is at the head of the list, which also has Stanley Okoye, Alade Aminu, Iroegbu Ike, Ayodeji Akindele, Mbamalu Bryant, Zana Talib, Braxton Ogbueze and Ike Nwamu, while Jekiri Tonye is set to make his debut.
Tonye is recalled, after missing the last window due to administrative reasons, while Christopher Obekpa, Obinna Emegano and Michael Efevberha will return to the squad alongside Ekene Ibekwe, whose last appearance was at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Veteran ace, 34-year-old Michael Umeh, who was in the winning team of the 2015 Afrobasket, has also been recalled to the squad, which will face hosts Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and second placed Senegal.
Currently ranked 33 in the world and first in Africa, D’Tigers are on a nine match unbeaten run and Nwora added that they want to finish the series on a high to boost their rating before the FIBA World Cup draw.
Nwora stressed that preparation for the event in China has started and he wants to give opportunities to more players to fight for shirts.
He added: “We were the first country in the world to qualify for the World Cup and it is very important that we start our preparation early.
“The journey to get the team ready for the World Cup is a long one, but I am happy with the progress we have made so far.”
D’TIGERS’ FULL LIST OF INVITED PLAYERS
Diogu Ike (Sichuan Blue Whales, China), Iroegbu Ike (Science City Jena, Germany), Ike Nwamu (Wisconsin Herd, USA), Michael Umeh (Twarde Pieniki, Poland), Alade Aminu (Hapoel SP Tel Aviv, Israel), Christopher Obekpa (Al Riyadh, Lebanon), Efevhera Michael (Homemtmen Basketball Club, Lebanon), Ekene Ibekwe (Levallois Metropolitan, France), Stanley Okoye (Tecynconta Zaragoza, Spain), Braxton Ogbueze (Basquet Coruna, Spain), Ayodeji Akindele (Fuerza Regia Basquetbol, Lebanon), Zana Talib (Montakit Fuenlabrada, Spain), Jekiri Tonye (Gaziantep, Turkey), Obinna Emegano (Rouen Basket, France), Mabamalu Bryant (CD Vildivia, Chile).