Nigeria won a hard fought victory over Ivory Coast, defeating their West African neighbours 73-84 in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Group F qualifier on Friday in Lagos.
D’Tigers, who were unbeaten and on a run of 6 game winning streak heading into Friday’s game, were given a scare by the dogged Ivoriens who fought back to reduce an 11 point deficit in the first quarter, looked poised to shock the 2015 African Champions.
Ivory Coast Head Coach, Paolo Poiva had his game strategy to stifle D’Tigers fast play, holding off Guards Ben Uzoh and Bryant Mbamalu.
The Italian almost won that battle, if only his players had the stamina to keep it up, but, the mantle fell on Ike Diogu, Ike Nwamu, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ikenna Iroegbu.
All scored double figures in points, and but Obi Emenago finished with a joint game high 15points alongside Ivory Coast forward, Valiessa Fofana.
D’Tigers were pushed and even pinned to the wall in the first and second quarters, but the hosts managed to break free, however not without some disturbing 15 turnovers that the Ivoriens benefited from and Head Coach Alex Nwora admits his team needs to improve.
In his post-game remarks Nwora also reflected on the short period he had to prepare the team.
“We did not have time to do what we wanted to. We worked with the time we had to do what we’ve done. We’re still happy with the result, knowing it’s our first game; first games are always difficult any way.
“The Ivoriens are a very good team, those turnovers are forced, so we did not just throw the balls away, we played against a very good team; they beat Senegal, they’re not a pushover,” he continued.
“We played a very good team, we’re going to make corrections in the next game and continue doing so until we get it right.”
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