Nigeria men’s basketball team became the first country to officially secure qualification for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China with a comprehensive 114-69 victory over Central Africa Republic on Saturday night in Lagos.
D’Tigers extended their winning record to 8-0 in the qualifiers, increasing their points haul to 16 in Group F.
With two teams expected to qualify from each group, leaders Nigeria have automatically secured a spot for a third appearance at the World Cup, as they cannot drop below second-place despite having four qualification games to go -a game against Senegal on Sunday and the concluding phase of Group F fixtures in February 2019 at a yet to be announced venue.
Coach Alex Nwora made home advantage count and fully maximised the availability of his strongest team to date since qualification tipped off in February 2018.
D’Tigers began the second round of qualification with an 84-73 win against Ivory Coast on Friday night, Obinna Emenago emerging as the team’s leading scorer with 15 points.
They followed up the opening day win with an impressive 45-point victory against Central Africa Republic on Saturday. D’Tigers slowly but steadily stamped their superiority on the game, winning the first quarter 25-20, Ikenna Iroegbu the team’s top scorer with eight points.
D’Tigers opened a 12-point gap in the second quarter, 51-39, pulling further clear at the end of the third quarter which finished 88-60.
Experience and superior quality obviously played a huge as D’Tigers not only reached the 100 point mark in the fourth quarter, but produced five double-digit scorers, Iroegbu: 18 points, Ben Uzoh: 16 points, Ikechukwu Nwamu: 16 points, Stanley Okoye: 11 points and Aminu Alade: 11 points.
Up next for Nigeria on the final day of the three-day qualifier are second-place Senegal (15 points), who remain in the hunt for a World Cup ticket on the back of successive wins, 94-89 against Rwanda and 82-71 against Mali.