Nigeria’s men’s basketball senior national team, D’Tigers’ captain, Ike Diogu has disclosed that he has a burning ambition to excel with the squad at this year’s FIBA World Cup in China.
While Diogu is looking forward to making his debut for Nigeria at the global basketball showpiece, he is also looking at the prospects of returning home with a top-three spot.
Diogu stated firmly in his preview of the upcoming competition that it is not beyond D’Tigers’ capacity to win any shade of medal – gold, silver or bronze – but admits the players must work hard to achieve it.
The 35-year-old star, who averaged 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in helping Nigeria book a ticket and return to the basketball top event, after a 13-year absence, said he is confident of a glorious outing.
Diogu added that D’Tigers have gained lot of experience in recent years, which he says makes it possible for them to stand toe-to-toe against any opposition and stressed that they can ably rival the world’s best in China.
All these have given Diogu high spirit of leading Nigeria to a solid outing at the 2019 Basketball World Cup from 31 August to 15 September.
Diogu stated: “I am fired up ahead of the tournament in China. It’s a very important competition, we worked hard to qualify for the World Cup and the entire team is happy things ended up positively.
“We wanted to end the qualifiers unbeaten, but unfortunately we lost two games during the final window.
“We made some mistakes and I think it’s a good thing because we will be able to work on them and improve going forward.
“We have a strong roster with players competing in top championships across the world.
“If they can stay healthy and be consistent, we’ll have every reason to be hopeful for a better performance as compared to 13 years ago.
“The trophy may look a surreal objective but, if we work hard and believe in ourselves, we can pick up a medal. Everything is possible.
“All my life I’ve played in top championships and I know what it means to play in a big tournament.
“I’ve learnt how to deal with the pressure and this is something I believe will be helpful to the team.
“I want to be an example for the others to follow, but above all I want to lead the team to success.”