The 2013 edition of Afrobasket kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday) as Nigeria lines up against Mali in their first game of the tournament.
Nigerian forward, Ike Diogu, on arriving in the capital city of Ivory Coast on Monday told fibaafrica.com that the senior men national team D’Tigers will take a leaf from the determination and commitment that saw them qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Surely we are here for business and having half of the players that featured at the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament and the London 2012 Olympic Games is a plus to us and we are going to adopt same spirit that saw the team pick an Olympic Games ticket ahead of strong opposition in the summer of 2012 in Caracas Venezuela,” he said.
Nigeria shocked the world to book a place in the twelve-team roster of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Diogu remains optimistic that the team has what it takes to claim the elusive basketball title for the first time in Abidjan and will not take any team for granted.
“We will never underestimate any team because all sixteen teams have equal chances of winning the title and added to that there are three World Cup slots, that will make the competition to be very competitive and tough.”
Meanwhile the sports minister, Bollaji Abdullahi, last Saturday at the send-off party organised by the Nigeria basketball Federation (NBBF) at the West Point hotel, Wuse Zone 7, Abuja, charged D’Tigers to do the nation proud at the tournament.
“I am sure that you can do Nigeria proud,” Abdullahi said. “Go and do the nation proud. I am optimistic because most of you who played at the Olympics are still in the team, which means stability.
“The board that took you to the Olympics is still the board leading you to Cote d’Ivoire so that tells continuity also. You have to do Nigeria proud so that the younger ones aspiring to be like you will emulate you.”
Nigeria has been drawn in group-D alongside Cameroon, Mali and Republic of Congo.