The qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA AfroCan - the competition of national teams for players on the African continent, is underway in Cote D`Ivoire and the Nigerian team finds itself in a tight spot, risking not qualifying for the tournament.
Nigeria, alongside two other Zone 3 teams, Benin and Cote D`Ivoire and Zone 2`s Guinea are playing for the last qualifying ticket for AfroCan. Whoever tops the group after the series of games gets the ticket. And we were off to a rocky start.
In the first game against Guinea, we failed to capitalise on the momentum gained in the first quarter which ended with a 6 point lead in favour of Nigeria. The Guinean team rallied in the second quarter, closing the deficit and taking the lead. Micheal Afuwape and Ibe Agu`s combined 25 points helped Nigeria tie the game at the end of Q3 but Guinea got the upper hand in the last quarter winning the game 65-62.
Nigeria`s second game was much better that the first. Benin started off well in the first quarter taking an early 5 point lead, but the Nigeria team came back with its full might in the second quarter leading with 15 points and maintaining the tempo for the rest of the game. Victor Ezeh and Ibe Agu finished with 21 and 13 points respectively. The game ended 78-51 in Nigeria`s favour.
Nigeria now finds itself in a tight spot. We are currently 3rd on the table as we prepare for our last game against Cote D`Ivoire. Not only do we need to win our game against the host country, we also need Benin to win theirs against Guinea. In the event that we win and Guinea wins too, head-to-head puts Guinea ahead of us.
Guinea`s game against Benin is at 5pm while Nigeria`s game against Cote D`Ivoire tips off at 8pm.