Nigeria’s youth basketball national team, Junior D’Tigers’ coach, Fubara Onyanabo is picking positives from his side’s outing at the FIBA African U-16 Championship in Cape Verde, despite their failure to pick a ticket to the global contest billed for next year.
Onyanabo’s side failed to qualify for the 2020 FIBA U-17 World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria after falling 54-45 to the defending champions, Mali in the semi-finals on Saturday, but the coach said his wards gave their best.
He recounted that Junior Tigers did well in beating Tunisia 86-36 to book the semi-finals spot, as they controlled the game from start to finish, but admitted that they met their match in Mali, against who they failed to win any quarter, in losing 14-11, 12-11, 17-11 and 12-11.
The Junior Tigers’ coach, however, insinuated that his players lost because they met older players, as he stressed that the physical builds and statures of the Malians was overwhelming for his lads to contain.
Onyanabo said: “It is sad we lost the game, the Malians were huge and didn’t give our boys space.
“However, I must say in the spirit of sportsmanship, that we lost to a better team.
“Our style is playing from the perimeters and we failed to make the most of our shots; that was our undoing.
“It is now a matter of ifs, but I think the boys did well. Most people didn’t give us a chance to go this far.
“We came silently and, after losing our first game to Egypt, everyone wrote us off but we came back and showed what we are made of.”