August 31, (THEWILL) – The senior men’s national basketball team of Nigeria, D’Tigers, suffered a disappointing 68-80 loss to the Silverbacks of Uganda in the ongoing 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Championships taking place in Kigali, Rwanda.
The unexpected defeat was not just shocking but, because it was part of the bracket play to remain in the championship, the 12-point loss effectively knocked the country’s representatives out of the competition completely.
Coming so soon after the unmet expectations at the just concluded Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan this month made it all the more difficult to swallow for fans of the sport as D’Tigers were second best in all the four quarters except the last, which was too little too late to make any difference.
Coach Mike Brown’s charges, trailed the Silverbacks by as much as 15 points in the first quarter and were only able to cut it down by three points to finish that initial quarter with a 12-point deficit that they never truly recovered enough ground to make up for in the rest of the match.
At the half time interval, D’Tigers did not improve the quality of their game as Uganda went into the midpoint still on the ascendancy, having increased their lead by a point to keep a 13-point gap between them and the Nigerians.
The overall score of 31-44 meant D’Tigers needed to dominate the second half to keep their chances of progressing through to the quarter-finals alive. Coming in against the third-placed team of Group D, victory was not considered an impossible task prior to the match with Brown assuring the country of victory.
D’Tigers had demonstrated needed confidence when they opened the competition by beating Mali 81-73 and topped that up by defeating Kenya 71-55 before slipping to a 68-77 loss to Cote d’Ivoire and missing out on automatic qualification for the next round. It was that loss that necessitated bracket play against Uganda, which Nigeria was on the verge of losing.
The flamboyance of those two earlier victories was lacking when D’Tigers finished the third quarter still trailing Uganda. The 13-point gap had increased to 18 points by the end of the third quarter, making a victory even more difficult to conjure.
Although the Nigerians eventually outscored the Ugandans in one quarter, finishing the fourth 19-13, the damage had been done in the first three quarters so that the game was lost by a solid 12 points: 68-80.
The fact that the NBA contingent of D’Tigers squad was absent from the Nigerian side was hugely responsible for the low FIBA Power Ranking that Nigeria carried into the competition and the early exit that befell the team on Tuesday.
However, D’Tigers will have to take the lessons from the competition to prepare for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers after the Afrobasket classification games.