D’Tigers captain Ike Diogu has revealed how excited he is to continue his role in the Nigerian team ahead of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (African Section) scheduled to start in February.
Nigeria will battle Uganda, Mali, and Rwanda for the three slots available from Group B in the first round of the African Qualifiers.
The top three teams from each group totalling 12 teams will advance to the second round of the Qualifiers.
Ike Diogu revealed how he revels in leading Nigeria in a chat with FIBA.
In his words, he said: “As I’ve always stated, my passion is to continue to represent Nigeria for as long as I can. So I’m excited to be the captain and look forward to a very successful run.”
“The World Cup is a huge goal of ours. We have not played in one [since 2006]. So we want to make sure to put our best foot forward in the Qualifiers not take anything for granted at all. So It will be .a challenge with the new rules but one we are up for.” he added.
On Nigeria’s emergence as Africa’s highest ranked team, Diogu said: “Nigeria has an amazing talent pool and since there are so many good players that’s what makes it so tough to choose from. But when we finally kept a core group together and built the cohesion that you need, we were able to surprise people and will big games and I still think people have not seen Nigeria’s best team with its best players because that will be a very scary sight.”
On FIBA’s decision to increase the participating teams from 24 to 32 and Africa’s slot from 3 to 5, the Nigerian team captain said: “The game is growing, so FIBA wanted to have a true world tournament which I think is great and it’s amazing they are seeing Africa as a rising power I truly believe it’s only a matter of time before an African team is on the podium receiving a medal at one of the big tournaments.”
On what he has been up to since September, Ike Diogu stated that: “Since Afrobasket  I have been training hard waiting to sign somewhere to play, concentrating on NBA and China. So hopefully, something works out but also looking at other leagues I was happy to show that I, at 34, can still dominate at a high level.”