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D’Tigers Fall 68-77 To Cote D’Ivoire In Final Group Game


August 29, (THEWILL) – Nigeria’s basketball winning run on the ongoing 2021 FIBA AfroBasket competition in Kigali came to a halt as D’Tigers lost 68-77 to group leaders Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday. It meant Nigeria finished second and missed an automatic quarter-final ticket.

However, they can still qualify for the quarter-finals. Finishing second in the Group C round of matches earned D’Tigers a quarter-final qualifying fixture on Tuesday, to keep hopes of progressing alive.

Against Cote d’Ivoire, in the final group match played at the City Arena in Kigali, the Nigerian senior men’s national team failed to raise their game and lost in three of the fixture’s four quarters, which was underwhelming given their previous results.

The Ivorians won their first two games; like D’Tigers, they were playing inspiring basketball at the competition. Nigeria came into the Sunday encounter hoping to wrest the group’s top spot from them and gain the automatic slot for the quarter-finals. The Nigerians knew only a win was going to see that happen.

In their last encounter in September 2019, D’Tigers had defeated the Ivorians 83-66 when they met in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup. They must have had that at the back of their minds entering Sunday’s fixture.

However, it was a different squad of players representing Nigeria at the Kigali-hosted competition that did not carry the same quality the country boasted in recent times. After losing the first quarter 11-20, they showed promise with great recovery to take the second 23-19.

Yet, just as it was expected that they will capitalise on that momentum and take victory on the back of the resurgence, they fell behind in the quarters that followed. The third quarter score of 13-15 was followed by a fourth quarter loss of 21-23 to give the victory to Cote d’Ivoire.

On the Nigerian side, Benjamin Emelogu was again the team’s top performer, with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ikenna Ndugba also had six assists and two steals of his own.

As THEWILL reported,  D’Tigers began the tournament by beating Mali 81-73. They then defeated Kenya 71-55 to stay neck-and-neck on wins with Cote d’Ivoire before Sunday’s loss. It means they finish second in their group with five points from three matches behind the 100% record of the Ivorians on nine points.

To qualify, Nigeria will have to defeat Group D’s third-placed team Uganda in bracket play after Uganda lost 88-86 to South Sudan on Sunday as well.