Nigerian Tigers will take on Tunisia in the opening of Group A matches when the jump ball is taken for the London Olympics on July 28. Nigeria, Russia and Lithuania were included in the fixtures Sunday night after the qualification tournament ended in Caracas, Venezuela with the three countries picking the final tickets. Nigeria seized the last men’s basketball berth at the London Olympics with an 88-73 victory over the Dominican Republic in a last-chance game at the FIBA qualifying tournament.
Nigeria had shocked favourites Greece in the quarter-finals, but were beaten in the semi-finals on Saturday by Russia – who booked their own place with that win.
Lithuania had also secured a spot on Saturday with a victory over the Dominican Republic, leaving Nigeria and the Dominicans to play one last contest for the third and final berth still up for grabs.
In Group A are Lithuania, Tunisia, USA, France, Nigeria and Argentina. Group B has Asian champions China, Great Britain, Brazil, Australia, Russia and Spain.
On Sunday Ike Diogu, a 10-year NBA veteran who was with the San Antonio Spurs last season before a spell with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, led Nigeria with 25 points and 10 rebounds. He was voted the Most Valuable Player for the last game.
“I’m very happy. We did what had to be done,” Diogu said. “We knew we were going to face teams that are heavyweights, and we did what we needed to do – win.”
Olumide Oyedeji, a former Seattle Sonics player and a veteran with the team told The PUNCH he was a fulfilled man.
He said, “To Almighty God be the Glory; it was a great feeling for me. I have achieved everything in my career as a basketball player won championships, MVP, NBA and all that. I have played in Africa Nations Cup, Euroleague, Asian Championship, South America and indeed all over the World. But what was missing was this Olympics but now is here. Whoa! I’m just short of words.”
Nigeria, ranked 21st in the International Basketball Federation world rankings, had 14 points from Al-Farouq Aminu, who plays for the New Orleans Hornets in the NBA.