Nigeria’s men’s basketball team D’Tigers on Sunday ended the first phase of their quest for qualification for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup with an 82-59 win over hosts Mali in their last Group B first round qualifying tournament in Mali.
The Ike Diogu captained side finished on top of the group with maximum six points and will head into the next phase of the qualifiers in June unbeaten. They had defeated Uganda 102-86 in their first match and Rwanda 108-53 in their second game.
According to FIBA, the 12 teams, who qualified from the first round, will play home and away games to determine the five teams that will represent the continent at the 2019 World Cup in China.
In Sunday’s game, Nigeria dominated the first quarter, which they took 21-5 but the Malians rallied back in the second quarter to earn a 16-16 draw against D’Tigers. The hosts took a slim lead in the third quarter 21-20 but Nigeria completed the game in the last quarter winning 25-17.
Diogu weighed in 22 points, eight rebounds and one assist to lead the charts for Nigeria while Christopher Obekpa had 10 rebounds and Michael Efevberha had 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Obi Emegano accounted for 15 points and Bryant Mbamalu scored 14 points.
Moustapha Diarraand Ibrahim Djambo were the stars for the Malians as they weighed in nine points each.
Nigeria converted 50 per cent of their two-point field goal against Mali’s 25 per cent. The Malians converted 25.93 per cent of their three-point field goals against Nigeria’s 39.13 per cent.
Mali had 38 points from their bench while Nigeria had 24. D’Tigers converted 84 per cent of their free throws but Mali converted 72 per cent of theirs.