D’Tigers secured automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after defeating hosts, China, 86-73 in a pulsating FIBA World Cup Classification 17-32 Group M game played in Guangzhou.
Alex Nwora’s side overcame a 21-19 opening quarter loss to win 16-10, 25-20 and 26-22 in the remaining quarter.
The win was D’Tigers third at the World Cup following defeats to Russia and Argentina.
Josh Okogie who recorded 16 points, three assists and five rebounds was unanimously voted as the man of the match while Nnamdi Vincent scored 14 points, two assists, and one rebound.
Nigeria coach Alex Nwora praised his team’s determination and was confident they could make some noise in Tokyo.
“We have a lot of talents but we showed resiliency,” Nwora said in the post-match interview.
“We weren’t going to settle with leaving China with a loss. We’re going to make the necessary preparations now so that we can be very, very good at the Olympics.”
Veteran Ike Diogu believes Nigerian basketball is becoming an emerging force following their feat.
“We feel right now is the golden age for Nigerian basketball and we have a lot of exciting up and coming players,” he said.
“We just want to keep on building and have a good showing in Japan. It feels really good knowing that we are going back to the Olympics.”