Nigeria's senior men's basketball team, D'Tigers defeated host China 86-73 points yesterday in the classification game of the 2019 FIBA Men's World Cup to secure Africa's sole ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
D'Tigers fought a bruising battle to claim the ticket after initially starting the World Cup with two defeats against Russia and Argentina in their Group B pairing.
Playing against China who were also desperate for an automatic ticket from Asia, the Nigerian players came to the party in Guangzhou with the resolution not to leave the Chinese city without the ticket in the bag.
After dropping the first quarter 21-19 to China, they began to assert their authority, using superior skill and strength to outsmart the Semi Asian Tigers to clinch the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters, 16-10, 25-20, 26-22 on the day that four players recorded double figures. They ended the first half 35-31 points.
It was the first time D'Tigers recorded the highest number of three wins in a single World Cup.
Josh Okogie who shot 16 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds to help Nigeria to the victory, was unanimously voted as the Man of the Match while Nnamdi Vincent scored 14 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound.
Ekpe Udoh and Chimezie Metu scored 13 and 11 points respectively.
Head Coach, Alex Nwora described the victory as a sweet one which was enough to compensate the team for missing out of a place in the quarter finals
The Minister of Sports, Dare Sunday, immediately after the win in a phone conversation with D'Tigers, congratulated the players and officials for the win which has elevated the status of Nigerian sports globally.
NBBF President, Musa Kida said the Olympics ticket and the boys' performance was a testament to hard-work of the board and the technical crew.