D’Tigers got their 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualification campaign back on track with a gritty 72-70 win against rivals Mali on Saturday.
Ngeria’s men’s basketball national team had lost their Group A opener to Cape Verde on Friday but rebounded in impressive fashion to beat Mali at the Benguela Pavilhão Multiusos Acácias Rubras in Angola which is hosting the first round of qualifying.
Captain Ike Diogu was D’Tigers best performer with 19 points and six rebounds, while Omotayo Jordan who missed the Cape Verde encounter also poured in 19 points. Point guard Ben Uzoh added 11 points for Nigeria.
Mahamdou Kante scored 10 points for to the Malians with Siniman Kanoute and Lamine Sidibe adding 13 and 11 points respectively.
Unlike their loss to Cape Verde where they led for three quarters before suffering a spectacular fourth quarter meltdown, Nigeria had to fight back from behind against Mali after trailing by nine points at half time.
Head coach Julius Nwosu would be pleased at how his wards responded after the break as they outscored their opponents 42-31 in the final two quarters to turn the match around.
Nigeria were particularly improved in their three-point shooting which at 24 per cent against Mali, was a hundred per cent improvement on the efforts in the loss to Cape Verde.
The win take D’Tigers top of Group A although Cape Verde can reclaim top spot with victory against Uganda in Saturday’s late game.
D’Tigers are next in action on Sunday when they take on bottom side Uganda who lost their opener 66-76 to Mali.