Some members of the senior national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, on Tuesday said that playing for their fatherland was the greatest thing that has happened to them in their careers.
D’Tigers defeated the national teams from Rwanda, Uganda and Mali in the just-concluded FIBA 2019 World Cup Qualifiers which held in Lagos from June 29 to July 1.
The team had won all three teams during the first FIBA World Cup qualifiers window when they played in Bamako, Mali in 2017.
With six victories from six games, Nigeria has now qualified to play in the third window which is set to come up in September.
D’Tigers, led by Coach Alex Nwora, was compelled to use several players to execute their astonishing results which edged the team closer to FIBA World Cup championship in China in 2019.
The players told NAN that it was a great honour in which they were delighted, adding that they were ready to give their best.
Jordan Nwora, whose father is the head coach of the team, said that it was an honour to play for his fatherland and would give his best at all times.
“I am happy to be here in Nigeria, it was my first time playing under my father who had taught me so much in basketball.
“It is not the same as in the U.S. where the game is less physical, but after the first game I have adjusted and ready to give my best.
“I have adjusted to the system and I am confident of doing well in subsequent call-ups,’’ he said.
Nwora led the floor with recorded 36 points, five rebounds and five assists when Nigeria beat Mali 93-53 in the final game of the qualifiers in Lagos.
He plays for the University of Louisville in the U.S.
Keith Omoerah on his part said it was a great achievement for him to contribute his quota to the development for the team as they pursue World Cup appearance.
“I am so happy with the results and, especially the good treatment we receive from the fans. This has helped us to settle down to do what we know how to do best.
“It is my first time in Nigeria and it feels good to also unite with some of my families, indeed it has been a tremendous experience in which I will cherish for long.
“I have eaten some home grown food like
fufu', jollof rice and some`egusi’ soup indeed it has been an awesome experience,’’ Omoerah said.
Omoerah plies his trade in Baerum Club, Norway.
Braxton Ogbueze, another new invitee, told NAN that playing in the national team was different ball game in which he would cherish for a long time.
“I am happy to represent my country and to do it with some great teammates who also helped me to settle down. Indeed, I am glad to play for my fatherland.
“I look forward to many more games to come and hopefully help Nigeria to get the final ticket to the FIBA World Cup,’’ he said.
Ogbueze currently plays for Florida Gators in the U.S.
The team captain, Ike Diogu, in assessment of the players said that Nigeria was blessed with abundant talents and that new players that have been discovered are future players for the country.
“We are blessed with lots of talents and hopefully the future is bright for Nigeria as the new players can assume the leadership roles in the future games to come.
“I hope the federation can keep these young lads together and hopefully they will continue to churn out the kind of results that will make the nation proud.
“We also hope the nation can continue to give that support that would push players to do well and make everyone proud at the end,’’ he said.