Nigeria’s men’s senior basketball team, D’Tigers’ B-squad ended up with a quarter-finals’ finish at the maiden edition of the FIBA AfroCan, sequel to their 84-80 loss to Algeria, but Rivers Hoopers of Port Harcourt star, Abdul Yahaya was outstanding in the hapless squad that toiled all through the competition.
While the home-based D’Tigers failed to shine during the quarter final qualifications game on Tuesday at Palais des Sports Salamatou Maiga, Bamako, Mali, Yahaya finished with a game high 26 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists including three 3-pointers.
Another promising performance came from Abdulwahab Yakubu, who added 16 points and 4/6 from the deep for D’Tigers, while Michael Okiki contributed 12 points and 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
Their efforts, though, were not just good enough, despite the fact that D’Tigers started well with better ball movement and fewer turn overs, compared to their first two group games of the novel championship.
The Nigerian team even maintained a lead in the first half at 43-39, then took a five point lead to the fourth quarter, only to eventually surrender their advantage with seven minutes remaining on the clock.
D’Tigers rallied back to reduce a 10 point deficit to 3 points, with the log then at 83-80, with 13 seconds remaining after Algeria had taken a 9-0 run but, with 10 seconds left, Okiki gave out two free throws and fouled Bourkaib Merouane, who converted one and missed the second (84-80).
However, Algeria, who had three players finish in double figures, saw that their 4 point-lead was more than enough to book their spot in the quarter finals proper against Angola.
Yahaya, though, put the blame for the slump by D’Tigers’ B-squad on poor competition and lack of a proper calendar back home in Nigeria, as he lamented that the biggest problem home-based players are facing is that the Men’s Premier Basketball League has been off-season.
Despite some of the players participating with the national team in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers and 3×3 championship, the ex-Kano Pillars’ forward also complained about the poor state of the administration of the giants’ sport, particularly their neglect of the domestic league.
Yahaya stressed: “We don’t have a league in Nigeria. People don’t want to be honest, but the truth is we don’t have any league in Nigeria.
“There is no basketball going on, we’re all at home. Stanley Gumut is at home, Nda Abu, Jemba Jemba. No league in Nigeria or competition that people can play.”