The assistant coach of D’Tigers Abdulrahman Mohammed, Nigeria’s senior male national basketball team, is unfazed about the threat of hosts of this weekend’s 2018 FIBA World cup qualifier series, Mali.
Despite admitting the threat posed to the team by the host, the coach is confident that the team can repeat their 2017 FIBA Afrobasket feat having defeated the same opposition by 90 points to 67 when they met at the group stage.
Speaking on the strength of opposition to be expected from Rwanda, Uganda and Mali, he said, “Mali is the biggest threat for us. I know we are better than Uganda while I know that Rwanda is going to come up with a few tricks but we are well prepared and we just see out it goes.”
He explained that home advantage will play a major role when they face Mali on Sunday.
“I think Mali will be our biggest opposition because they are also a big basketball nation and they are playing at home and that is going to go a long way in giving them a little edge over us.”
The Coach who led Gombe Bulls to their first ever continental outing last season however ruled out any form of pressure on the team irrespective of the results recorded when they start their campaign on Friday against Uganda.
“It’s a long qualification series. It’s not as if when we lose, we are knocked out of the stage but I don’t see us losing to Mali regardless of the fact that they are playing at home. If we get our players in and we play our game, we are going to beat Mali on their home court.”
Head coach of the side, Alex Nwora will hope to start the world cup qualification campaign on a winning note when they face Uganda on Friday before meeting Rwanda on Saturday.
With the foreign-based players already reporting straight to Bamako, the Nigerian contingent will depart Nigeria few days to the games to team up with their mates.
Going by recent records, D’Tigers is expected to enjoy an easy ride against less fancied side like Rwanda who only managed just a win in their group at the 2017 Afrobasket where they finished 10th out of the 16 participating teams.
For Uganda, despite starting on a strong note against Angola which they eventually lost to in overtime, they were not able to win any of their group games as they limped to a 13th place finish.
Mali who were grouped alongside Nigeria at the tournament finished 9th.