Nigeria achieved one part of her mission at the on-going FIBA World Cup in China yesterday when they beat the hosts 86 to 73 to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
It was Nigeria’s last classification game of the 2019 FIBA Men World Cup and the D’Tigers needed a win to end as Africa’s highest performer at the World Cup, which reward was an Olympics ticket. That they did in style.
China won the first quarter, 21-19 points, but the Alex Nwora-led team came back stronger in the second quarter to take the initiative and end the first half on top, 35-31 points.
A win would have given the hosts an Olympics ticket, but they met a Nigerian side desperate to correct the mistakes that cost them matches against Russia and Argentina earlier on. And so the boys fought their hosts all over the court to end the third and fourth quarters 25-20 and 26-22 respectively with four players recording double figures.
The discovery of the championship, Josh Okogie shot 16 points, three assists and five rebounds claim the man of the match award, while Nnamdi Vincent scored 14 points, two assists and one rebound.
Ekpe Udoh and Chimezie Metu scored 13 and 11 points respectively as the D’Tigers recorded the highest number of wins in a single World Cup.
An elated Nwora at the end of the game described the win as a victory good enough to compensate for the team’s inability to qualify for the quarterfinals.