D’TIGERS GUARD: WE HAVE TO IMPROVE AFTER TUNISIA SCARE
Posted: Jul 31, 2012
D’Tigers’ Ade Dagunduro spoke with FIBA after helping Nigeria to beat Tunisia in their opening game of the London 2012 Olympic Games
You were at Venezuela where Nigeria qualified for the Olympics, what is the experience like and how tough was that game against Tunisia?
Caracas seems like years ago. We didn't really get a chance to scrimmage top level opponents after the game against the Dominican Republic, but we squeezed a win out today against Tunisia, so we're grateful for that. A little sloppiness in the second half and giving up the huge lead, but a win is a win.
What happened at half-time after you guys were up 16 points and they came back?
Our coach made a nice half-time speech, saying we still have to apply the pressure. I think it’s the players’ mentality to let up a little when you’re up 16, but that should never happen. We have to have a killer instinct when you have a big lead because it may come down to a tie-breaker and points spread play a part, so we’ve got to be more mature.
Tunisia showed why they are the champions of Africa with their comeback.
Tunisia is a great opponent. It goes to show you that basketball has picked up tremendously in the last few years in Africa. It’s good to see two African teams in the Olympics, but we’re glad that we got the win.
What was it like playing in an Olympic game for the first time?
It was unbelievable. I can officially say that I’m an Olympian. I waited until the first game to step onto the court to say that I’m an Olympian. Now that it’s happened, it’s official and I’m grateful.
How difficult was the 9am start for the game against Tunisia?
I was concerned. We all were concerned. I wasn’t sure what to eat. I talked to several people about what I should eat because it was the first time that I’ve played at 9am. We came out strong, though. But I think it showed in the second half we were a little fatigued. Hopefully we can have some later starts to come.
Do they have a huge selection of food that you can choose from in the Olympic Village?
It’s a great variety. London’s done a great job providing us with various foods from all over the world. You’ve got the Asian section, the African section, the Caribbean section.
Are you rubbing shoulders with a lot of different athletes in the Village or just keeping to yourself, trying to keep your focus on basketball?
I try to mingle a bit. It’s a once in a lifetime experience so you want to meet as many people as you can. I have quite a few friends who play for other countries, especially the U.S., so I try to do my fair share of mingling with everybody.
You survived a really hard game against Tunisia. How does this set you up in what is a really tough group?
I think it sets us up nice. We’re settled in, now that we’ve got that win behind us. Now we need to move forward. I like our chances but we’ve got to stay focused. And if we get up, we need to maintain the lead. We can’t lose our composure.
Tell us about your bursts down the lane in the fourth quarter when Tunisia were so close. You went hard to the basket, soaring over the defense and attacking.
Our coach stressed that (Tunisia center) Salah Mejri had four fouls, so we knew we had to attack, but attack them the smart way – not just to get him to pick up the fifth foul but attack the basket. I was able to drive down the lane, get him to commit his fifth foul and that was huge for us.
In the back of your mind, are you thinking you need to show yourself out there to raise eyebrows with clubs in Europe, or in the U.S.?
There’s no greater platform than the Olympics, but I try not to have that in my mind. I try to stay focused. When you are pressing and know that bigger things are on the horizon, you start to lose yourself. I’m definitely trying not to do that. I’m trying to play my game and whatever happens, happens.
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