The coach of Nigeria men’s Basketball Team, D’Tigers, Mike Brown has released 20 man provisional list for the 2021 Afrobasket qualifier slated for Kigali, Rwanda between 27th and 29th November.
The list submitted for the qualifier has 7 players that featured at the 2019 FIBA World Cup where Nigeria qualified for the Olympic in Tokyo. Team captain, Ike Diogu will lead the legion, which includes 29 year-old Stan Okoye (Gran Canaria), Ben Uzoh, Ike Oregbu, Talib Zanna, Ekpe Udoh and Michael Eric.
Festus Ezeli who won the NBA in 2015 with the Golden Warriors will be on the flight to Rwanda, his invitation is coming as an opportunity to represent Nigeria for the first time ever. He is joined in the provisional list by a member of the 2015 Afrobasket winning team, Mike Gbinije.
Ike Nwamu makes a return to the team after missing the 12 man to the World Cup, Tonye Jekiri also makes a return alongside Christopher Obekpa, Braxton Ogbueze, Mike Efevberha, Obinna Emeagano who featured in D’Tigers qualifiers series in 2019.
Chima Moneke who plies his trade with French club Orlean, in French Basketball League has also been called up for the first time, he has an average 12.3pts and 5.8rebs in 4 games. Zaid Christopher Hearts Okpalannaka also joins him as first timer in the team, he also plies his trade in French second tier league.
Other who will fight for their first cap for Nigeria include Real Betis, forward Obi Enechionyia alongside Ogbunu John and Rasheed Sulaimon who play for Casademont Zaragoza in Spain.
Meanwhile, President of Nigerian Basketball Federation, Engr. Musa Kida has explained that exceptional quality of players ready to play for Nigeria has made the selection very difficult for the coaching crew led by Mike Brown despite some players that featured for the countryside in the 2019 World Cup in China being excused.
“We are always determined to go all out and put our best foot forward all the time. While we were prosecuting the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, we saw different players who came and got the job done.
“We have many players in the NBA and top leagues across the world who have been excused because of the timing of the qualifiers and their schedule. Some are trying to seal new contracts, others are moving in-between teams while some are waiting to be drafted which is very close when camp open”
Kida is delighted that we have abundant talents, he also added. “All the 20 players deserve a place on the roaster and we are happy with the quality at our disposal. The Coaching crew has the final decision about the last 12 players.”
With the mixture of new and old players invited in the 20 man list, Kida expressed satisfaction with the quality of players which he described as a mixture of youth and experience.
“Our immediate target right now is to win our matches and qualify for the 2021 Afrobasket while we also prepare for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. I believe that we are on the same page about what is expected of everybody.”
The D’Tigers is grouped alongside host Rwanda, Algeria and Mali.