The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has expressed his appreciation to the players and technical crew of Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers after the team’s campaign at the Olympic Games came to an end on Saturday.
“My thanks and appreciations go to the players and coaching staff of the D’Tigers,” said the Minister. “They represented Nigeria impressively and we thank them for their resilience, efforts and their patriotic commitment.”
D’Tigers lost 80-71 to Italy to crash out of the men’s basketball event of the Tokyo Olympics but their performances before and during the Olympics gives room for many to be optimistic about the future of the team led by United States-born coach Mike Brown.
The D’Tigers needed to win against Italy to stand any chance of progressing to the next round, but they had a slow start against the Europeans.
The Italians quickly ran into a 17-6 lead as they dominated Nigerians, and it continued like that for most of the first quarter.
Nigeria had many turnovers that cost them in that first quarter as Italy established a 27-17 lead.
Nigeria fought back in the second quarter and cut the lead to four points. Chimezie Metu made back to back threes to cut Italy’s lead to just one before another turnover cost them. By halftime, Nigeria had shown enough fight.
Italy started the third quarter with a 7-0 run, but Nigeria fought back again to 45-45. By the end of that quarter, Nigeria led 63-56.
In the fourth, the Italians fought back and took the lead they maintained until the end of the game.
D’Tigers comprised entirely of players making their debut at the Olympics, while some were participating at an international championship for the first time.
“They came and gave a good account of themselves to the world that Nigeria will compete amongst the best basketball nations,” continued the Minister. “And to Mike Brown and the coaching staff, thank you for building this team and your faith in the team.”
He added: “You have performed tremendously well and Nigerians thank you sincerely.”