Nigeria point guard,, Ben Uzoh, is confident the D’Tigers can achieve great things at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China,.
D’Tigers qualified for the 2019 FIBA World Cup for the first time since 2006 and will face Argentina, Korea and Russia in First Round Group B.
In an interview with FIBA.basketball, Uzoh describes their group opponents as strong teams that should not be taken for granted, but he believes the D’Tigers can give them a good run for their money.
“Hopefully this World Cup stage will be one of Nigeria’s best experiences yet. As a unit, we like our chances,” said Uzoh, a 1.91m (6ft 3in) playmaker who averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in nine games during the African Qualifiers.
“We have a competitive group of teams with respected history. No fear, just respect. Definitely, I have a ton of respect for the countries in our pool and their history but I feel we’re a dark horse that can compete beyond the preliminaries.”
Uzoh admits that, by reaching the Quarter-Finals at the Women’s World Cup in Tenerife last September, Nigeria’s women have tasked the men to not limit their ambitions.
“A shout-out to our senior women’s squad! Both of our success in recent years shines a greater light on Nigeria and Africa,” Uzoh said.
“Personally, the World Cup means a great deal to me as it’s a stage I’ve never been on. But any time I share the court and a stage with my brothers in representing the country, it takes on a whole greater meaning for me.
“First off, being the No.1 team in Africa is something my brothers and I are proud of. But rather than pressure, it’s a great opportunity that we have as a country to continue to spearhead the growth and respect of basketball on the continent.”
On the preparations for the World Cup, Uzoh points to chemistry and preparation as a pair of key factors.
D’Tigers will face the Dominican Republic and Canada in pre-tournament friendlies ahead of the World Cup.
“I feel both of those will be key factors to maintain the success we had in the Qualifiers,” Uzoh offered.