Nigeria’s D’Tigers became the first team to secure a place at the 2021 Afrobasket Tournament in Tunisia after a hard-fought win against South Sudan in Game 4 of the qualifiers in Monastir on Wednesday.
D’Tigers were led by the virtuoso performance of point guard Ike Iroegbu who scored 16 points including four from behind the arc to help Nigeria secure a 75-70 win over their opponents, ensuring that stand-in head coach Mfon Udofia got off to a flyer in his first game in temporary charge of Nigeria’s men’s basketball team.
A comfortable first half that saw D’Tigers take an 8 point lead into the break became frantic after the interval as the South Sudanese led by Nuni Omot, rallied to level matters at 64 all with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Iroegbu, however, came up with a huge three-pointer with the scores level and Obi Emegano also sank another to give Nigeria a lead they never relinquished as they stayed unbeaten and booked their Afrobasket spot with two games to spare.
Emagano finished with 15 points while team captain Ike Diogu and Chima Moneke weighed in with 8 points a piece, despite the win, however, a serious looking injury to Amanze Egbekeze who had to be helped out of the arena cast a pall on events.
Omot’s game-high 27 points led the way for South Sudan with Dut Jok Kacuol adding 10 points in their losing effort.
The encounter also saw Uche and Ike Iroegbu become the first siblings to play together for the men’s national team since Alade and Al Farouq Aminu donned Nigeria’s green at the 2015 Afrobasket.
D’Tigers are next in action against Rwanda on Thursday, 18 February.