D’Tigers improved their chances of qualifying for the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines later this year thanks to a 72-63 win over Ivory Coast in their opening game of the final qualifying window at the Pavilhão Multiusos de Luanda on Friday.
The Ivorians who have already qualified for the World Cup were favourites for the win, however, the Nigerian team which consists of home-based players pulled off one of the biggest victories of their careers.
Nigeria began the game on a strong foot taking the first quarter 16-15 but their west African counterparts came out stronger in the second quarter taking the game 19-14 as they headed into the first half break with a 34-30 lead.
A more inspired D’Tigers returned from the break with a strong third quarter performance taking the game 23-14. They held on to a 19-14 deficit in the fourth quarter to hand the Ivorians their first loss of the qualifying campaign.
Victor Ezeh led D’Tigers in scoring with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block while Israel Otobo contributed 13 points and led the team with 13 rebounds. Kanyisola Odufuwa recorded 12 points, two assists and one steal.
The Nigerians made 27/63 (42.9%) field goal attempts while shooting a low 27.8% (5/18) from beyond the three point line. The team recorded a total of 24 turnovers, something they’ll need to work on before the next game against Guinea.
Jean Philippe Dally led the Ivorians on the scoring chart with 19 points, Vafessa Fofana had 12 points and 10 rebounds while Souleyman Diabatte had nine points and 11 assists in the loss.
D’Tigers’ next game will be against Guinea on Saturday while their final game comes up against Cape Verde on Sunday.