Nigeria’s cadet basketball national team, Junior Tigers will this Friday line out against Tunisia in the quarter-finals of the ongoing FIBA Africa U16 Championship in Praia, Cape Verde.
Nigeria enter the game on a high, after finishing second behind Egypt in Group A, as they will come against the team that placed third in Group B, with The Junior Tigers having also sealed a quarter final spot at the expense of another North African side, Algeria 75-64.
The Nigerian kids made the best of their last Group A game, to set up Friday’s game, as James Othuke Okemirie led the way with 19 points and 18 rebound double-double his second double-double of the competition.
Farouk Isah added 17 points, Precious Ikpe had 14, while Bormini Victor Dennis contributed 10 points and five assists, but Reuben Chinyelu was short of a double-double with five points and 15 boards in 25 minutes.
On the other hand, four players finished on double figures for Algeria, as Ilian Nessaibia had 18 points and four rebounds, Mohanď Ammad added 15 points, Yahya Marouane added 11 points and five rebounds.
Aouana Abdelmalek was one shy of a double-double as he shot 8 points and 11 rebounds in the game, but their efforts could not stop Nigeria from continuing their march to represent Africa at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Bulgaria next year.
A top-two finish at the championship will automatically qualify them for the Sofia 2020, towards which the players are in high spirit heading into Friday’s game, as they echoed how much they have enjoyed life in Cape Verde, where they have spent a week on the West African island.
Speaking after training at Vava Duarte Stadium, the boys disclosed that there have been more positives than negatives, as they intend to enjoy more of the scenery also getting more wins on the scoreboard.
Small forward, Precious Ikpe said. “They are loving and friendly people it is also a developing country, and I discover that their population is not as much as Nigeria.
“They are all beautiful and they look like Brazilians and this country is a good tourist place because of their beautiful ocean.
“Some of the things I don’t like since coming is their food, it is way different from what we eat in Nigeria, they don’t eat pepper at all.”
Power forward, James Okemirie added: “I like the way their houses look, the beach which is very blue.
“I like their closeness to the ocean, the hills and the roads here are beautiful and they are very organized.”
Creative centre, Esuola David retorted “Their houses here are not as clustered like we have in Nigeria and there is no traffic here.
“It is different from Lagos where I live and there is constant power. What I dislike is that their food does not have pepper.”
The team’s point guard, Ebuka Okpara noted: “They have a very cool and healthy environment, there is no traffic, no noise, every thing is just in the right places.”