Nigeria’s unfamiliarity with the FIBA format is to blame for D’Tigers 77-82 loss to Russia in their opening game at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China according to D’Tigers power forward Josh Okogie.
Playing in their first-ever FIBA World Cup, D’Tigers led the Russians by 8 points going into the 4th quarter but the Europeans rallied to win by 5 points in Group B’s opening match.
Nigeria had enjoyed a stellar buildup to the tournament and were ranked 7th in the latest edition of the FIBA World Cup Power Rankings.
But speaking after the game, Okogie who was Nigeria’s best performer with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists suggested that playing at the World Cup for the first time affected the team and said D’Tigers will need some time to get used to the format of international basketball.
“I just think that we just needed time to adjust to their style of play,” the Minnesota Timberwolves player said.
“A lot of the guys are used to a different style of play so now getting into the FIBA rules and the FIBA style of play, it’s going to take us some time to get used to the offense. We are still learning each other, we’re still a fairly young team, we are new, we are just trying to get a feel of everything.”
D’Tigers play Argentina in their next game on Monday, 2 September and need a victory to stay in the competition.