Nigeria’s national men basketball team is placed 4th according to the latest FIBA rankings; for teams participating in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
After achieving a first-ever win against the USA, D’Tigers followed that up, with another sensational outing against Argentina.
Ranked 22nd in March 2021, the global governing body FIBA also ranked Nigeria as Africa’s top men’s basketball nation. The D’Tigers who will be competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics Games had commenced their camping exercise at the beginning of the month ahead of the games. However, despite defeating powerhouse USA and highly ranked Argentina, can Nigeria’s representatives fly the green colour at the Olympics.
Eight players on the team that represented Nigeria at the 2009 FIBA AfroBasket tournament were born in the United States; and in 2006, a team dominated by Nigeria-Americans qualified for FIBA world. The team continues to enjoy success as a result of an increasing amount of talent from Nigeria; and systematic recruitment of American college and professional players of Nigerian descent.
Reactions have continued to pour in as a result of the team’s most recent feats; expectations have doubled and the spotlight seems to be on a team, Stephen A. Smith – an American TV personality described his players as unknown. Even though he has apologized, the D’Tigers beat the American and Argentinean teams and this has hauled them from a small fry side to tournament contenders; that one game against a world weight changed everything, despite the previous encounters ending in favour of the Americans.
D’Tigers are in Group B with Italy, Germany and Australia, a jungle of some sort; and the lowest FIBA-ranked team in their group. Coach Mike Brown seems to also have a selection problem, as he must drop three players before the 25th of July when the battle for supremacy begins.
With barely a week to the commencement of the Olympics campaign, can the D’Tigers put aside their abysmal performance in London and Rio and rule the court?
Three Nigerian commercial banks have already adopted the National men and women basketball teams. D’Tigers get $100,000 while D’Tigress also get $100,000 as an aid to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; which puts to rest the issue of a “GoFundMe” initiative by the Nigeria Basketball Federation – NBBF.
Africa’s sole representative, at Tokyo Olympics, will require more than just wishes to advance to the knock out stages of the tournament, talk more of winning medals. D’Tigers suffered defeat to 3rd ranked team- Australia; by a massive 39 points, in their final friendly game ahead of the 2020 Olympics. The D’Tigers will play in an empty stadium at the Olympics and will need to play way better than they did against the USA and Argentina and work on the errors they committed against Australia.
D’Tigers start their third consecutive Olympic Games against Australia, FIBA-ranked No.3 and power ranked No.1, at the Saitama Super Arena on July 25.