By Albert Akota
D’Tigers has arrived in Guangzhou in time for their classification game against Cote d’Ivoire yesterday.
Having narrowly missed out of the second round ticket, the team has now set their sight on picking an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Head Coach, Alex Nwora said that with the victory against Korea on Tuesday, there is everything to fight for starting with the important game against their West African rivals.
“The team has continued to improve and we hope to step it up on Thursday. Tunisia, Senegal, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire will all be desperate to get the Olympic ticket. So we must get our acts right and get the job done.”
During the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria defeated Côte d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points before suffering an away 72-46 point’s defeat in Abidjan to hand the Ivorians a World Cup qualification lifeline.
Nwora said all records are now in the past with all teams in search of a ticket to Tokyo.
“We have played each other in the past but this is different. The stakes are now high and we are all aware of that. All the games we played in the past will count for nothing at this stage.
NBBF President, Musa Kida said considering the financial implications of prosecuting the Olympics Qualification Tournament (OQT), it’s important for the team grab the only ticket on offer for Africa at the World Cup.
“Inviting players, camping them and playing the OQT will involve money which can be channeled to developing basketball back home. The boys are fully aware of what is at stake and the need to continue their winning run.”
For the team to stand a chance of qualifying, they must win their games against Côte d’Ivoire and host- China to emerge as the highest placed team in Africa having enjoyed a better points deficit compared to the other four African teams.