By Bamidele Boluwaji:
Defending champions D’Tigers of Nigeria had a tough start to the 2017 FIBA Africa Championship for men in Tunisia on Friday night as they narrowly defeated Cote d’Ivoire by 78-77 points in their opening game of the tournament, Completesportsnigeria.com reports
Nigeria who won the 2015 edition to qualify for the last Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil started the game on a good note, leading the first quarter with an impressive 17-11 points lead against the Ivoriens and added 25-22 points in the second quarter to end the first half with a 42-33 points lead.
D’Tigers who were expected to maintain the tempo in the third quarter went to sleep and allowed the Ivoriens to dominate the period 17-11points.
It was the turning point for the Ike Diogu-led side who had to struggle on several occasions to keep their lead, therefore allowing their opponents to pile more pressure on them.
And in the last quarter, it was a great escape for the defending champions who were stretched to lose the quarter by 25-27 points and ended the game with a narrow 78-77 points win.
Power forward Diogu recorded 31poitns and seven rebounds in the victory while point guard Ikenna Iroegbu added seven assists.
With the victory, the Nigerians are having two points while the Ivoriens picked one point from the game.
D’Tigers will play Mali on Saturday in their second game of the tournament.
In other game played at the Tunisia venue, Tunisia beat Cameroun 68-51 points.