Two star players in Nigeria’s men’s basketball senior national team, D’Tigers, are leading the battle cry for success at this year’s FIBA World Cup in China, as captain of the side, Ike Diogu says they want to start off on a winning note against Russia on Saturday, while Al-Farouq Aminu says going all the way to the final is his top priority.
Aminu insists D’Tigers are good enough to win a medal at the global showpiece of giants, in which Nigeria is also grouped alongside South Korea and Argentina, but Diogu is quick to add that they will take their mission a step at a time.
With that in mind, Diogu says they will first give their best to win the opening match with Russia on Saturday, then consolidate against Korea and wrap up group play with another win versus Argentina, before going full blast in the knock-out rounds of the championship.
The skipper, whose full names are Ikechukwu Somto Diogu and he currently plays for Bayaman Vaqueros of Puerto Rico, added during Mega Sports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos that he is happy with the very vibrant atmosphere in D’Tigers’ camp, which he believes is evocative of a squad set to take all comers to the cleaners in the coming days.
He, however, admitted that it will not be a stroll in the park against the Europeans, who he admitted also have a strong pedigree in the game, but affirmed the determination from him and his teammates to make Nigeria proud and lay solid grounds for themselves in the FIBA annals.
Diogu stressed: “Russia is going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough game for us, but we are determined to win.
“One to 15, we are going to give our best, and I believe we will get the result we want. I only hope that the odds will end up in our favour. We just have to come out on top.”
On his part, Aminu, who is a main team player at Orlando Magic in USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA) league added that D’Tigers want to meet up with the expectations of Nigerians, who he acknowledged are impressed with the team’s build-up results heading to China 2019, and he reckons that they cannot afford to disappoint their fans.
Aminu declared: “Our goal is to bring back home a medal. It’s amazing what this team is doing; and all Nigerians are expecting more from us.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we want to get into the medals’ zone. We are training hard and we are aiming for a podium spot.”