D’Tigers power forward Al Farouq Aminu says the team aims to create more history by bringing “home a medal” from of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup in China.
Aminu, who recently signed for Orlando Magic after four seasons with the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA is one of twelve players selected by head coach Alex Nwora in his final roster for the tournament.
And following an impressive pre-World Cup preparation campaign that saw the team win the Peak Invitational tournament last week and bag wins over Poland, the Dominican Republic (twice), Canada and Montenegro, Aminu believes the team is sufficiently prepared for the 32-nation event and says they will continue to get better as the tournament progresses.
“We are as ready as we are supposed to be today, we’ve been doing a good job of preparation,” the 28-year old wing told busybuddiesng.com.
“I think the guys have been battling hard, we’ve been making sure that we do everything that we can. Practice has been very efficient, I like to think that we’ve done it in different games and we’ve continued to steadily improve.”
D’Tigers, at 33 in the FIBA men’s world ranking are the lowest-ranked team in Group B where they’ve been drawn alongside Argentina (5), Russia (10) and Korea(32).
Their current standing and group opponents notwithstanding, Aminu believes the team who were the first to qualify for the world cup following a stellar qualifying campaign where they won nine straight games can eclipse the record set by Egypt for the highest finish by an African side when they placed fifth at the1950 world cup.
Aminu says having such tough opponents in their group would spur D’Tigers to work even harder to achieve their goal in China which he says is to make the podium and return home with a medal.
“Our goal is to get a medal and that is part of the road,” the 28-year old who together with the rest of team and backroom staff will be making his debut at the World Cup.
“In order to get a medal, it doesn’t matter what group you’re in, if it was easy and you get to the final stages and you don’t win then it doesn’t matter.
“So, it doesn’t matter if you win early or you win late you have to win so I think the group helps us get better I think it would help us reach our goal. Obviously, our goal is to bring home a medal.”
Aminu’s time with D’Tigers has been marked by a long string of successes including a first-ever appearance in the Olympics in 2012, the country’s first AfroBasket title in 2015 and now a first-ever appearance at the basketball World Cup.
Following a brief hiatus from the team, Aminu returned for the world cup qualifiers and assessing his time playing for Nigeria, the former number 8 overall pick for the LA Clippers said Nigerians can look forward to him contributing to making more history with the side.
“It’s been amazing, and since I’ve been on the team we’ve been creating a lot of history,” 6’9inches player said.
“First time going to the Olympics [London, 2012], then we did it again, first time winning the AfroBasketball [Tunisia, 2015] and now another first so it’s kind of an amazing thing.
“So, I hope everybody in Nigeria understands what this team is actually doing, the history that we are making and we can continue to make.”
The 2019 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup will take place between August 31 and September 15.