Nigeria began her campaign at the Rwanda 2020 Afrobasket qualifiers in Kigali with a 76-56 victory over South Sudan yesterday.
New D’Tigers coach, Mike Brown, named Ike Iroegbu, Ike Diogu, Obi Emegano, Keith Omoerah and Mike Gbinije as his starting five in the Group D match.
Nigeria took the lead 22-17 in the first quarter before pulling emphatically away in the second with a 24-12 score.
South Sudan restored their belief in the third quarter by taking the game 20-15, but Brown’s team was too good for them as they came back roaring to a 15-7 score in the fourth quarter.
South Sudan were better than their Nigerian counterparts in the paint, netting 37 per cent of their shots, with Nigeria managing only 33 per cent, but it was D’Tigers who enjoyed a filled day from the three-point line, shooting 40 per cent to South Susan’s 15 per cent.
Captain of the side, Ike Diogu, expressed satisfaction at the team’s performance in the post-match press conference, highlighting their fluidity despite players coming together for the first time.
“Practice time has been limited. This is actually our first game, so it is good to get our feet wet and get some live competition,” said Diogu.
Coach Brown, who is working as a coach in Africa for the first described the experience as “exciting”.
“The guys we have here are fantastic individuals, and obviously they are good basketball players,” he said.
The game also reunited Brown with South Sudan coach, Luol Deng, a player he used to manage in his days as Coach of Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA.