Ngeria’s men’s basketball national team, D’Tigers, opened their bid to secure qualification for the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup on a disappointing note after a calamitous fourth-quarter collapse condemned them to defeat against Cape Verde at the Benguela, Pavilhão Multiusos Acácias Rubras on Friday.
D’Tigers who only arrived Angola, venue of the qualifiers, a few hours to their Group A opener lost 79-70 to Cape Verde.
The defeat continues a worrying trend for the team and follows their woeful outing at the 2021 Afrobasket in Rwanda, where they posted a 12th place finish to mark their worst performance in the competition.
Veteran Ben Uzoh was D’Tigers’ best performer with an 11 points and 11 assists double double. Ike Diogu and Keith Omoerah scored 13 points each and Tarekeyi Andrew Edogi added 10 points in D’Tigers’ losing effort.
Anderson Correia top-scored for Cape Verde with 15 points, the duo of Joel Almeida and Jeffrey Nunes Xavier added 14 points apiece while Ivan Almeida weighed in with 13 points.
Nigeria led by four points after the first three quarters before a late rally by their opponents saw them outscored 28-16 in the fourth quarter.
D’Tigers were woeful from the three-point line, making a paltry 12% of their shots compared to 35% for Cape Verde.
That inefficiency beyond the arc proved to be Nigeria’s undoing in the fourth quarter as Cape Verde capitalised on their superior shot-making to reel in D’Tigers, wipe out their lead and secure a huge victory.
Head coach Julius Nwosu would hope for a much better showing when Nigeria take on Mali in their next game on Saturday, 27 November.
Sixteen teams, divided into four groups, are currently involved in the first round of qualifiers which will hold in three windows with the top three teams from each group qualifying for the next qualifying round.
Nigeria’s other group opponents Uganda have not made it to Angola because funding constraints.
The 2023 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup will hold from 25 August to 10 September 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.