The Nigeria Basketball Federation under the leadership of Musa Kida, has expressed gratitude to basketball fans for coming out in large numbers to support the senior national men’s team, D’Tigers at the ongoing qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup in China.
D’Tigers outclassed their archrival, Senegal, 89-61 to confirm their dominance in the FIBA World Cup series, recording nine straight victories.
Kida told the News Agency of Nigeria after the match at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium on Sunday in Lagos that he was thrilled by the massive support the fans gave to the team.
He added that the crowded sports hall provided the right atmosphere for the sport and would continue to grow under his leadership.
“It’s a great feeling I must confess, the players gave their best and the fans were so supportive, and the spirit in the hall had brought the kind of excitement we wanted.
“It has indeed been an eventful series and hopefully the players and the coaching crew are the true heroes of the sport.
“When we came on board in the NBBF, we promised all stakeholders that their competitions will be staged for fans of the sport to appreciate and enjoy watching their star players here in Nigeria.
“We can only do more for basketball, especially as the women’s team, D’Tigress also prepare to go for the World Cup which comes up in Spain on September 22,’’ Kida said.
Kida told NAN that the NBBF’s intentions when they came on board was to conquer Africa, and also make Nigeria the destination of choice for basketball.
“We want to ensure the sustainability of the sport, we want our players far away to feel connected to the sport at home and contributing their own quota.
“It is also the very first time in the history of Nigeria where we have our women going for the World Cup and the men also going for the World Cup.
“At the local level, we have the grassroots development programmes such as the Total Division One and Two Leagues in operation.
“At the end we want to say proudly that basketball is back and it is back for good in Nigeria,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the next FIBA Men’s World Cup comes up in February 2019, where Nigeria will play three games against Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Central Africa Republic.
Senegal with seven victories out of nine hopes to build on its wins to book a spot alongside Nigeria for the World Cup which comes up in China.
Prior to the commencement of the qualifiers in far away China, D’Tigers coach Alex Nwora had said the senior national basketball team were focused on beating all contenders at the 2019 FIBA Africa World Cup Qualifiers.
Nigeria have defeated all eight teams in the competition starting with the first window in 2017 where they topped Group F having powerhouses Senegal and Central Africa Republic.
Mali, Rwanda and Ivory Coast are also contenders for the two tickets to the World Cup in China next year.
Nwora told NAN that his team have the capacity to defeat any opponents .
He said, “We are a rock solid team and blessed with abundant talent, but we cannot celebrate now until we play our final game.
“We can continue to improve on our quality based on the availability of our players who are so desirous to represent their fatherland.
“So, we are not satisfied until we pick the ticket and prepare ourselves for the competition ahead.’’
D’Tigers crushed CAR 114-69 at the National Stadium in Lagos to register one of the biggest scores so far in the second round of the qualification series.
Ikenna Ireogbu, who contributed 18 points to the success of D’tigers, says he is happy with his performance and that the team are focused on getting Nigeria to play in the World Cup in China.
He said, “I am happy about the results so far but we can only work harder and give our best to the success of the team.
“Although we had little time to train, so far we have struck an understanding and are working towards achieving good results.’’
Senegal showed superiority over Mali beating them 82-71 to prove their quality and maintain the stability of the team.