Following their poor performance during the just-closed window of the 2023 FIBA ​​World Cup qualifiers, D’Tigers striker Michael Gbinije has stated that the men’s basketball team must win their remaining matches in the next window of the qualifiers to to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

D’Tigers recorded one win in three games and lost 78-66 to host Ivory Coast on Friday evening at the Palais des Sports Treichville, with a capacity of 3,500.

Stand-in coach Mfon Udoh led the team to an 89-70 win over Guinea in their second game to bounce back from their previous defeat to the Ivorians, but were brought down in their final game of the series and lost 70-67 to Angola.

The 2.01m (6ft 7in) attacker, who helped Nigeria win their only AfroBasket title in 2015, remained optimistic that it was not over for Nigeria, with a final window in February 2023.

“The other games we have ahead of us are must-wins,” he told FIBA.basketball.

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“We didn’t show this trip (in Abidjan) well and we made it difficult for ourselves. Our only redemption is to look forward to the last window by winning all our games.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities playing in the AfroBasket, exhibition games, the Rio 2016 Olympics and the World Cup qualifiers. Nigerian basketball is great on the world stage, but we need to make better progress.”

Speaking about the one factor that has kept Nigeria as a force in African basketball, Gbinije said: “It’s different for every player because we have some young and older players.

“Some of us play from experience and teach the younger players as we play, but as I said, the roster has changed so much that you have to get used to the new players. Overall, the chemistry of the floor helps us build a bond.”

Sixteen African teams will participate in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers over five tournament windows over 15 months.

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Qualifiers will run from November 2021 to February 2023, with five African national teams earning a spot in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup to be held in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines from August 25 to September 10, 2023.

Ivory Coast has qualified to pick one of the slots, leaving the other 15 countries competing for the remaining four slots.

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