D’Tigers will aim to take their first win of the 2022 FIBA World Cup African Qualifiers when they play against Guinea in Abidjan on Saturday. Saturday PUNCH reports.
The Nigerian team lost 66-78 to Côte d’Ivoire on Friday night at the 3,500-capacity Palais des Sports Treichville, casting doubt on their qualification hopes for next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Friday’s clash was the third between the two teams in recent times, with the Ivorians leading 2-1 in the head-to-head record.
D’Tigers continued their trend of poor starts as they lost the opening game in each of the last three qualifying windows of the African qualifiers.
Mike Brown’s men went into the series of matches in Ivory Coast with the basketball crisis in Nigeria, finally to bed.
With the head coach, Brown, not with the team in Abidjan, Mfon Udofia took the place of the Sacramento Kings head coach.
D’Tigers lost their first game from the first window to eventual group leader Cape Verde 79-71, and also lost their first game from the second window 79-70 to the same opponent to end with two wins from four games.
But things didn’t get any better for Brown’s men at the Palais des Sports de Treichville on Friday, as the home side dominated the game from start to finish.
Ivory Coast entered this game after beating Guinea 65-56 in their last game, while Nigeria are fifth on the group table with just six points, winning two and losing two of four. They entered the game after a 91-72 win over Uganda in their final appearance.
However, D’Tigers failed to build on their last win as the Ivorians proved too hot for them.
With less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter with a score of 74-66, tension arose between the two teams. However, the hosts remained calm and scored four more points before the end of the game.
The win means Côte d’Ivoire won their seven matches in the 2023 World Cup qualifiers, with less than 75 points in each of those matches.
They have won their last 11 matches in the African qualifiers – the longest winning streak of any team in all regions in the competition. Their last defeat, however, was against Nigeria, in September 2018 (73-84).