Nigeria D’Tigers will play their first real test at the ongoing Afrobasket championship in Kigali when they play Cote d’ Ivoire today.
The winner of the tie will not only top Group C but also pick the sole quarterfinal ticket.
Due to the increase in the number of teams at the Afrobasket to 16 only group winners qualifies automatically for the quarterfinal.
With D’Tigers and the Ivorians unbeaten after two games against Kenya and Mali, Coach Mike Brown knows that winning the game puts his team in a better position to achieve what they have set out to do in Kigali.
Although the Ivorians top the group based on superior points made, all that will count for nothing when both sides meet on Sunday.
Reacting ahead of the game, Brown described them as a well-coached side and expect a tough and physical contest.
“I don’t know yet because I have not spent a lot of time watching them. I do know they play extremely hard and they are well-coached. We have to come out and fight for 40 minutes.”
The last time both sides met, Nigeria defeated the Ivorians 83-66 on September 06, 2019, in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup.
This result will count for nothing with Nigeria parading a different set of players in Kigali.
Strategically, Brown said D’Tigers can’t afford to be intimated.
“They need to take care of the ball and be wary of needless turnovers against a highly physical team. We have to keep them off the glass because they are a physical team that rebounds well and we have to really take care of the ball because they really get up there defensively.”
Meanwhile, the draw for the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines will hold on Tuesday at the Patrick Baumann House of Basketball.
The 2023 edition of the World Cup marks the first time multiple countries will host the event.
The qualifying tournament comprises of six windows played over 15 months across the four regions of Africa, the Americas, Asia/ Oceania and Europe. Each qualification window lasts nine days, with the windows running from November 2021 to February 2023.
According to FIBA, 80 countries will vie for the 32 spots on offer with 16 African teams vying for five slots. Sixteen teams will vie for the seven slots on offer in America while 16 Asia/Oceania regions will contest for six spaces. 32 European countries will vie for 12 slots.