By Bamidele Boluwaji:
Nigeria national basketball men’s team D’Tigers will begin their participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia on Friday with the hope of making it to the medal zone as they face New Zealand in their opening game, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The coach Alex Nwora-led team will be captained by highly experienced Ike Diogu who recently featured in the 2019 Africa FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Mali.
America-based coach Nwora is also looking forward to a victory in the first game to boost his players’ chase for a medal.
“We have picked our players and we believe they have the qualities we need to do well,” Nwora told CSN.
“We just need to be focused and win our first game; though none of our opponents is easy, we are going to do our best.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand coach Paul Henare says his opening game with Nigeria will play an important role in their participation, saying he is focusing on the game billed to come up on Thursday.
The Tall Blacks arrived in Gold Coast on Wednesday and could not take part in the opening ceremony as they had to rush out for their first training ahead of the game.
“Originally, we were only going to be arriving into Cairns today ( Wednesday) anyway, and that was also going to take us out of the opening,” said Henare.
“And while we are looking for that balance between soaking up the experience and enjoying being a part of the Games and the wider New Zealand team, we must remember what our primary focus is, and that is all about performance and how to best prepare for this tournament, and in particular the opening game against Nigeria on Friday.”
After the New Zealand game, D’Tigers will take on Canada on Saturday Cairns court before playing host Australia on Monday.