BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
Nigeria captain, Ike Diogu says their Group A shock defeat to DR Congo has given the team the needed push for the Final phases for the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket Championship holding in Tunisia.
The D’Tigers, who lost 83-77 to DR Congo in their final group match after defeating Cote d’Ivoire and Mali will on Thursday face Cameroon in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Diogu, who was a non playing member of the triumphant 2015 team due to injury believes things will be different from the stage onwards, as they seek to retain the title incidentally won in Tunisia two years ago.
He told FIBA.com: “Honestly, I must say that the FIBA Afrobasket Championship has come of age and will continue to get better so all sixteen teams have equal chances of winning it.
“We are not deterred by our loss to RD Congo, but will only use it as a wake-up call that the championship is getting tougher as we await whoever comes our way in the quarter-final.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo point guard Myck Kabongo is yet basking in the euphoria of his side’s historic victory over Nigeria at the Salle Omnisport de Rades, on the outskirts of Tunis on Sunday.
The 25-year-old guard, who contributed 17 points and a team-high eight assists, shared his feelings with FIBA.basketball afterwards.
As they tried to put behind their loss to Mali on Day 1, the Congolese came up stronger against Cote d’Ivoire, before dispatching Nigeria.
“We resolved to come together as a team after the painful overtime loss to Mali, and it is a decision that has worked for us.”
“Beating the defending champion, Nigeria might be surprising to many but our belief is that every game counts and we are ready for any opposition in the Quarter-Final,” he explained.
THURSDAY’S QUARTER-FINALS PAIRINGS
Morocco 13:00 Egypt
Nigeria 15:30 Cameroon
Tunisia 18:00 DR Congo
Senegal 20:30 Angola