Nigeria’s senior male basketball team, D’Tigers on Friday defeated Ivory Coast 83-66 as they remain one more win to clinch the sole Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticket.
With 6 wins from 7 meetings, D’Tigers has once against confirmed its superiority over its West African rival and with Angola’s loss, it comes down to two teams for the ticket – Nigeria and Tunisia.
The D’tigers had bounced back from back to back losses to Russia and Argentina to record sweet win over Korea Republic on Wednesday to put themselves in a good position for Tokyo 2020 Olympic spot.
D’Tigers survived a late rally from the Ivorians to record their second win at the World Cup and also stay on course to pick an automatic ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games.
Friday’s classification game started on an even note with both team trading baskets until Nigeria pulled away at 11-6 and then ending the first quarter 28-18 with a ten-point lead.
The Ivorians switched gear in the second quarter by going up 2 points at 30-32, but Nigeria quickly bounced back to take the lead with a 3 point shot from Ike Iroegbu to tie the game at 35-35 before pulling ahead to end the second quarter 37-35.
Nigeria won the first and third quarters while tying the 4th quarter 20-20 with Cote d’Ivoire winning the second quarter.
Nnamdi Vincent led all Nigerian scorers with 15 points while Cote d’Ivoire’s Deon Thompson led all scorers with 19 points.
It will be recalled that the head Coach, Alex Nwora said that with the victory against Korea on Tuesday, there is everything to fight as Nigeria is expected to defeat the Ivorians to brighten their chances of securing the ticket ahead of main challenger, Tunisia who will meet Philippines in another round of classification games.
“Tunisia, Senegal, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire will all be desperate to get the Olympic ticket. So we must get our acts right and get the job done.”
During the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria defeated Côte d’Ivoire in Lagos 84-73 points before suffering an away 72-46 points defeat in Abidjan to hand the Ivorians a World Cup qualification lifeline.
Nwora said all records are now in the past with all teams in search of a ticket to Tokyo.
“We have played each other in the past but this is different. The stakes are now high and we are all aware of that. All the games we played in the past will count for nothing at this stage.
For the team to stand a chance of qualifying, they must win their games against Côte d’Ivoire, which they have now and host- China to emerge as the highest placed team in Africa having enjoyed a better points deficit compared to the other four African teams. They have highest point differential of any African team +24 points