Nigeria’s men senior national basketball team, D’Tigers, on Friday secured an 83-66 win over Cote d’Ivoire in their first classification match at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
D’Tigers survived a late rally from the Ivorians to record their second win at the World Cup and also stay on course to pick an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games.
Friday’s classification game started on an even note with both team trading baskets until Nigeria pulled away at 11-6 and then ending the first quarter 28-18 with a ten-point lead.
The Ivorians switched gear in the second quarter by going up 2 points at 30-32, but Nigeria quickly bounced back to take the lead with a 3 point shot from Ike Iroegbu to tie the game at 35-35 before pulling ahead to end the second quarter 37-35.
Nigeria won the first and third quarters while tying the 4th quarter 20-20 with Cote d’Ivoire winning the second quarter.
Nnamdi Vincent led all Nigerian scorers with 15 points while Cote d’Ivoire’s Deon Thompson led all scorers with 19 points.
Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire are familiar foes as during the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, D’Tigers defeated the Elephants in Lagos 84-73 points before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan to hand the Ivorians a World Cup qualification lifeline.
The Nigerian side took the keenly contested first quarter 24-18 but crumbled in the second quarter with some sloppy displays which allowed the Ivorians a 17-13 win.
However, D’Tigers bounced back in the third quarter, with Al-Farouk Aminu and Nnamdi Vincent constantly asking questions of the Ivorian defence.
The two West African countries shared the spoil 20-20 in the final quarter of the highly entertaining game, but D’Tigers did just enough to run away as winners.
Nigeria had defeated Cote d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points during the World Cup qualifiers before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan later.
Although, Ike Diogu had no rebounds, while Vincent scored D’Tigers’ highest points (15), Aminu was Nigeria’s best performer with 13 points, 7 rebounds, four assists and 2 steals.