Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, the D’Tigers, boosted their chances of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Games by defeating South Korea 108-66 in their final group game at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China on Wednesday.
Having lost their first two group games against Russia and Argentina, the D’Tigers knew victory against South Korea would boost Nigeria’s chances of automatically qualifying for the 2020 Olympics through FIBA Ranking.
With Tunisia also in the race for the sole African automatic ticket, a win for the D’Tigers and a hopeful slip up by the North Africans against Puerto Rico would place Nigeria at an advantage.
And at the Wuhan Wuhan Sports Centre, Nigeria started the first quarter brightly and narrowly won it by 17-15 points.
In the second half, Nigeria were even more purposeful, as Michael Eric ran riot against the Asians to earn Nigeria a 32-16 win.
Nigeria also took the third and fourth quarters 30-19 and 29-16 to further widen the gap and ensure that South Korea had no hope of staging a comeback.
Eric was Nigeria’s top performer with 17 points and nine rebounds, but it was an all-round team performance by the youthful D’Tigers side.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that with the victory, Nigeria finished third in Group B and now stand a chance of automatically qualifying for the Olympics going into the Classification phase of the tournament.
Tunisia seemed to be coasting home against Puerto Rico, but the Central Americans came from behind in the final quarter to narrowly beat Tunisia 67-64.
Nigeria’s victory means that the D’Tigers finished the group stage of the World Cup with one win, same as Tunisia.
However, a second win for Tunisia against Puerto Rico would have further narrowed Nigeria’s chances of qualification.
NAN also reports that the bottom two teams from each group are eliminated from the tournament proper and ranked in places 9-16.
However, classification games would be used to determine the 16 teams to advance to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments and results from the World Cup group stage carried over to the classification round.
The D’Tigers will now head to Guangzhou for their classification games.