Nigerian former basketball star, Olumide Oyedeji has expressed sadness over the country’s men’s senior national team, D’Tigers second straight loss at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, as he says it is a huge setback to their potentials.
The former national team captain said he was disappointed that the players could not hold their own against Argentina, but the president of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Engineer Ahmadu Musa-Kida is picking positives from the outing, as he says the players showed great promise for the future.
Much to Olumide’s chagrin, despite a very heartwarming performance in their opening loss to Russia in their first game on Saturday, D’Tigers failed to rise to the occasion on Monday, and the ex-player moaned during Mega Sports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos that it was painful seeing them lose 94-81 to Argentina at Wuhan Sports Center.
After the 82-77 loss to Russia on Saturday, D’Tigers were hoping they could recover against their South American opponents and Coach Alex Uche Nwora named an unchanged starting line-up that had Benjamin Uzoh, Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu.
However, D’Tigers struggled for form and were already down 28-17 at the end of the first quarter, but they still fought back, wining 26-15, to end the halftime tied at 43-43, with Okogie netting 10 points.
Having lost the first quarter by 11 points (17-28), D’Tigers rallied on resumption, but they soon caved in and failed to build on the momentum, as they were crushed 29-18 to set up a tensed 4th and final quarter, as Okogie, scored a game-high 18 points, but it was not enough to help his side stop the rampaging Argentines led by Patricio Garino, who poured in 17 points.
D’Tigers who had earlier lost to Russia 82-77 points on Saturday in their first group game of the Basketball World Cup will have to get it right in their last group game against South Korea if they are to stay in contention at the World Cup.
Despite the loss, Nwora said his team gave a good account of themselves and declared that he is still very optimistic about their chances of reaching the next round and book a ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games, once they get victory in their last group match is against South Korea on Thursday, which Kida also agrees is the next target to count on, as he looks to the future.
Kida declared: “I think we have a very promising team. They’ve given their best and we are all grateful for the benefit of coming to the World Cup.
“We saw them play, they all gave their best efforts, and we have hope for the future. They will do better next time.”
However, Oyedeji had a different point of view, as the former NBA star, who also had stints playing professional football in China and Britain, reckoned that Nigerian basketball has been hit with a huge blow that will be hard to overcome.
Oyedeji lamented: “It’s very painful and sad. We had a lot of hope for this team. They showed a lot of promise during the qualifiers, even before the competition, but they could not keep doing it at the main event. Loss of concentration was their biggest undoing.”