With just 16 days to the commencement of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, D’Tigers Head Coach, Alex Nwora says picking the last 12 players from the 15 players left in camp will be the hardest job to do.
D’Tigers are paired alongside Argentina, Russia and Korea in Group B and will play all their group games in Wuhan at the starts of the games on Saturday, 31st of August.
Speaking to journalists after the team’s first training session in Lagos, Nwora said despite all the 44 players on the preliminary list being good enough to be at the world cup, the Technical Crew can only pick 12 players to represent the country.
“The players that have lasted this long are those I think can help us to put up a good fight at the world cup. All the people we invited to camp can really play, but unfortunately, we have to go with the best and we are still figuring that out the 12 we can put on the floor for our first game against Russia.”
For him, being in camp since 7th of July and playing 4 grade A friendlies with fellow world cup bound teams has been very productive as he thanked the NBBF board led by Engr. Musa Kida for the usual support.
“At this point, the preparation we have embarked upon since the 7th of July has been very productive for us. I want to thank the federation and the president, Engr Nusa Kida for making it possible to start our preparations earlier.”
Despite targeting a podium finish, Nwora is not carried away by the ranking recently released by experts
Meanwhile, D’Tigers captain, Ike Diogu has revealed that the current players in the team are pumped up to give a good account of themselves at the World Cup in China.
With all 15 players in camp set to make their world cup debut if selected as part of the final 12-man rooster, Diogu said the chance to be at the World Cup means everything to the members of the squad.
“It means a lot because none of us has played in the world cup. The one time we had a chance of qualifying was in 2013 and we lost in the quarter finals of the Afrobasket. This is the first time for us all and we want to make sure we do something special.”
He thumbed up the high quality of training program for the team which he said has really improved the team’s overall performance as evident in the 4 friendlies played so far.
“We have got a lot of good young players and we are all excited to represent Nigeria in the right way. We are preparing very well and we expect to have a successful outing at the world cup.”
Diogu said that the series of friendlies and the training camps in New York, Canada and Lagos have given the team ample time to blend and get familiar with each other
“We just have to make sure we play as a team. Individually we know how good we are. We have a good collection of NBA talents and high level Europe based talents. We just have to play collectively as a group and I guess we should be fine against everybody else.”
Nigeria made its debut at the 1998 World cup in Athens, Greece while the last appearance was in 2006 where the team got eliminated in the round of 16.