The Tokyo Olympics is underway for Nigeria’s men’s basketball team. It did not get off to a great start, but it was encouraging nonetheless, as the D’Tigers lost their curtain-raiser 84-67 against Australia. However, the odds of Nigeria making it past the group stages is something to pay attention to, especially on hotspots like 22bet Nigeria, because the men’s team is ranked fourth on the official Olympic power rankings. In their warmup games, the D’Tigers got the best of two teams that sit above them in that ranking, the USA and Argentina, arguably the two best teams in the competition.
Coach Mike Brown from the Golden State Warriors has said going into the tournament that the Nigerians are not here to experience the tournament and settle for whatever score. The plan is to win. The team earned respect and a fear factor by beating the USA and Argentina, but all now is when wins will count, and group B gives the Nigerians a great chance to get the Ws. The group is comprised of Australia, Italy, Germany, and the Nigerians. Australia already took a pound of flesh, but that was to be expected because Australia is usually one of the grittiest teams in the Olympics and FIBA tournaments. With experienced players like Dante Exum, Patty Mills, and Joe Ingles, who have all played in the NBA for years and alongside each other in the National team, the chemistry is evident.
However, facing Germany and Italy should be another thing entirely. The Nigerians have what it takes to get past those two teams, if they can rally to play the brand of basketball that made them stand out during the pre-tournament games. Back in 2012 and 2016, the Nigerians had only one elite presence on the roster, Al-Farouq Aminu. This year they have no less than eight. Eight players with bright and promising careers, plying their trade in the NBA.
Jordan Nwora (the NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks this season.)
These are just a few of the names for the Nigerians, who have the right mix of talent, grit, youth, and experience, to make a surprising run in these games. Mike Brown also had high praise for president of the association, Musa Kida, who is giving his all to make sure the team stays competitive and present on the continental scene.
The same can be said for the women’s team. Nigeria became the first African nation to qualify both the men and women’s teams to the Olympics. The women have it a little rough opening against the US, but the same spirit to fight for every inch of respect permeates them. Though they could not get last-minute reinforcements from players like Elizabeth Williams and Nneka Ogwumike, both of them WNBA stars, the Nigerian team still is a decent force to be reckoned with.