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FIBA qualifier: Mali halts D’tigers progress

Mali’s National Men Basketball Team on Tuesday shocked basketball enthusiasts in Nigeria and beyond as they beat D’Tigers, 77-68 to pick their first win at…

Mali’s National Men Basketball Team on Tuesday shocked basketball enthusiasts in Nigeria and beyond as they beat D’Tigers, 77-68 to pick their first win at the ongoing International Basketball Federation Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Lagos.

Nigeria, who lost to Senegal in their opening game, looked set to bounce back from the defeat but unfortunately could not deliver when it mattered the most.

D’tigers had dominated the game with some superlative displays to the delight of the fans that thronged in to support them at the Eko Hotels Convention Centre, Victoria’s Island.

D’tigers ball play in the first three quarters looked most likely that they had learnt some lessons from their initial loss to Senegal.

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They took the first three quarters recording 17-15, 43-38 and 61-53 and had the entire hall rooting for them but went into oblivion at the fourth, final and most important quarter.

A resolute Mali team came out stronger than expected and came from behind to change the 61-53 deficit to outscore 24-7 in the final quarter of the game and coast home their victory.

Head Coach of D’tigers, Ogoh Odauda blamed his tactics and regretted the loss to Mali, citing the loss as a fourth-quarter curse and the inability of his team to hold on to their lead.

“It’s a sad loss, and we let everyone down, we are deeply sorry for the eventual result but this could largely be blamed on poor preparations.
“We want to win for Nigeria but unfortunately we could not have a better result; these things happen in basketball, but I don’t blame anyone but myself.

Uchenna Iroegbu who contributed immensely to the team, also expressed sadness and hope that things will improve in future competitions.

“It is a sad loss. We could have done better but we regret the outcome of the scoreline which did not put us in a good position. We just have to come together and see what went wrong and see how we can improve for a better outing next time,” Iroegbu said.

Meanwhile, Mali’s Head Coach, Kaba Kante, attributed his team’s victory against Nigeria as a very good one for them as it put them in a comfortable position ahead of their final group match.

“We are not afraid of any team, we are confident in ourselves and we know we can rise above any opposing team in the tournament,” Kante said. (NAN)

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