Man-of-the-match Michael Afuwape on Sunday, led the Nigeria National Men’s Basketball team, D’Tigers to their first-ever win at the FIBA AfroCan tournament.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports
that D’Tigers had lost all their matches after finishing 0-3 in the inaugural edition of the tournament in Mali in 2019.
Nigeria however started their campaign in the 2023 AfroCan tournament in Angola on a winning note.
This was after D’Tigers defeated Mali 73 – 69 in their tournament opener to hand their counterparts their second straight defeat of the tournament.
Though Mali put up some resistance in the final stretch, Nigeria kept the game under their control and cruised to a 62-56 win.
Nigeria led by as many as 14 points at some points in the game and never trailed.
For their opening game, Nigeria could count on two heroes; skipper Michael, Chimbuo and Ibe Agu, who combined to give D’Tigers 41 points.
They were the only three Nigerian players to score in double digits, each contributing 16, 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Afuwape went on to further add four rebounds, four assists and two steals to his stats in a man-of-the-match performance.
Two players from Mali also finished with double digits to their credit, with Benke Diarouma scoring 11 points and Ousmane Traore adding 10 units to Mali’s total.
Mali had 25 turnovers during the game, and Nigeria clearly banked on that to keep their advantage, claiming 27 points.
With Mali’s starting line-up struggling to lead their team, its bench came up active, contributing 28 points – half of Mali’s 56 points but Nigeria proved too strong as D’Tigers out-rebounded Mali 46-36.
Though they sometimes showed dominance in their games, Mali are now down 0-2. They will still play for the classification round on Wednesday and they will need to get their ideas together if they want to remain in the adventure.
“We’re happy coming off this first game with a win against Mali, know how hard tournament openers can be.
“It’s a moral booster for us. Looking back at the game, Mali have been very resilient, they kept coming back and never gave up.
“So I think as from now, we need to be more careful with our turnovers,” D’Tigers point guard Afuwape said after the match.
The tournament which dunked off on July 8 is expected to end on July 16 in Angola. (NAN)