Following Tunisia’s 86-84 points win over Angola in today’s classification match at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Nigeria’s national basketball team are condemned to beat hosts China in their final game to clinch Africa’s sole Olympic ticket D’Tigers head coach Alex Nwora has said.
Nigeria and Tunisia were neck and neck in the race for Tokyo with both sides needing to win their final games.
Tunisia’s win this morning put the North Africans in the driving seat for automatic Olympic qualification but a win for Nigeria over hosts China in the 1pm tipoff will see D’Tigers secure a berth in Tokyo.
Nwora, speaking after his team’s arrival at the Guangzhou Gymnasium for the 1pm tipoff, said D’Tigers are “playing for their lives” and must “play through the crowd” to get the much-needed victory.
“We have to win,” Nwora said after Nigeria’s arrival at the venue of the game. “We are playing for our lives to make sure we get this last ticket to the Olympics.”
“We can’t settle for anything else, this is all we can do now just to get this win first and then see what happens.”
With China sure to receive a vociferous backing from the home crowd, Nwora said his charges must block out the expected hostility of the spectators and focus on their own game.
“We have to play through the crowd, not worrying about little things, just worry about stuff that we can control; playing hard on the court and going to the next play, and the next and see what happens.”