Finally, Nigeria’s national male basketball team, D’Tigers showed their talents by winning a first ever FIBA Afrobasket Championship on Sunday night in Tunisia when they beat 10-time champions, Angola 74-65.
And the added bonus after winning a first title and beating Angola for the first time in 10 matches was that the Nigerians also qualified directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics and it was all down to a better conversion in the free throw shooting, which went above 70 per cent for the first time in the 12-day tournament.
Chamberlain Oguchi scored 19 points and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and was also named in the team of the tournament alongside teammate, Al-Farouq Aminu.
Oguchi was curtailed on his three-point shooting as he only made three, compared to the eight he made in the semifinal against Senegal.
The Angolans were very aggressive and made 33 fouls compared to just 14 from D’Tigers with the Nigerians also dominant on the glass with 60 rebounds – 24 offensively and 36 on the defensive end. Alade Aminu led the team in blocks with 12 and he added four points
Captain of the team, Olumide Oyedeji, had said the team was the most talented of the teams that came to Tunisia and that claim was justified even though one of their best players, Ike Diogu, did not play a single minute of the competition because of a twisted ankle.
Afterwards, Oluchi, the MVP, said: “It’s the best moment of my life, to be able to come here after missing the last AfroBasket, to be able to come here and do this with my brothers, it feels amazing.
“I’m happy to be able to share this moment with them and for me personally, it’s just really great.”
It is also a great triumph for the coach of the team, William Voigt, who was named the substantive coach of the team just in July and he has fulfilled the first part of his contract, which was to qualify the team for Rio.
He will now be expected to prepare the team to do better in Brazil.