Portland Trail Blazers guard Al-Farouq Aminu, has revealed that the D’Tigers are still chasing perfection in spite of qualifying for next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.
The Basketball World Cup tips off on August 31, with the draws for the tournament to take place on March 16 in Shenzhen.
D’Tigers are on a winning streak of nine games so far in the 2019 FIBA African Qualifiers and Aminu admits that the team will not take their foot off the game ahead of the sixth and final window, in February 2019 when Nigeria takes on Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic (CAF) and Senegal.
“Those games are very important. It is important to keep being in the same dynamics,” Aminu told FIBA.com.
“It’s not because we already have our spot for China 2019 that we have to give up competing for the rest of the Qualifiers.”
“We’re going to keep working and try to reach our full potential in order to have a great run in China next year but to also keep building for the future of the national team,” he explained.
“Those games are very important. Why not trying to win the last three left? It’s important to stay in the same dynamic.”
Aminu, who last wore the Nigerian colours in 2015 before making his triumphant national team return last month, is looking forward to featuring at the China 2019 event.
He also admits that the depth of talent in the current squad might come in handy in China.
“We have plenty of guys in Europe, in colleges and some of them who are in the NBA are from a Nigerian background, so maybe one day some more of them will join the national team.”
“We can’t wait to compete again on the world stage and compete against the best teams in the world. And we are all looking forward to it. There is still plenty of time before the start of the competition but we have that in mind and we can’t wait for it to be next summer.”
“We have the potential to do very well in the present and future and we’re going to do everything to have the best team we can build.”
“I’m sure it’s going to be a unique tournament as China is a country that really loves basketball and we will feel the love from the fans during the entire competition.
“Our goal will be to have a great run and try to achieve the best one ever for an African team at a FIBA Basketball World Cup.”
The forward who stands at 6ft 9in (2.05m), averaged 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals a game in Nigeria’s three wins during the September Qualifiers played on home soil in Lagos and was thrilled with the fans support.
“It’s so great, I really love it,” he insisted. “The fans (in Lagos) were very loud and very supportive and we had to win to show them that we are very competitive and thank them for their support.
“We really felt a lot of love from our fellow compatriots. It’s easy to tell they’re here for us no matter what. I’m very proud of being Nigerian and to be playing for the national team so it feels very good to go back home to compete and share wins with the fans.”
Speaking about playing for Nigeria, he said: “It’s one of the most important things in my career, that’s for sure.”
“I’m proud to play for Nigeria and I love the feeling of wearing the national team jersey and representing the country.
“When I do something, I try to do it the best way and I’m 100 per cent invested in the national team and on helping basketball grow in Nigeria, but also on the entire African continent.
“It’s good to know that you’re followed and seen as an example, an inspiration by the youth and I’m trying my best to show them that everything is possible.”