Nigeria recorded its first-ever victory at the FIBA AfroCan tournament on Sunday in Angola when the home-based D’Tigers scored a 62-56 victory over Mali.
Unlike 2019, when Nigeria lost all three group games against Kenya, DR Congo, and Algeria, they started on a promising note with a victory over their Malian counterparts.
Right from the jump-off, the D’Tigers made their intentions known as they raced to a commanding 13-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game.
They maintained this momentum throughout the match, and that made the Malians play catch-up with the Nigerian team.
The D’Tigers paraded some players whose all-around displays helped cement the historic victory. Michael Afuwape Okiki led the way with an impressive 16 points.
Not far behind was Chinedu Chimbou, who added 15 points with remarkable shooting precision. Meanwhile, Ibe Agu sank crucial shots to contribute 10 points to the victory.
The Nigerian squad was not merely content with their breathtaking offensive display. Victor Anthony Koko, a towering presence, made 12 rebounds and thwarted many of the Malians’ attempts at the rim.
The DTigers also proved their mettle at the free-throw line, converting 80% of their attempts (24 out of 30 shots). But the game was far from over, as Mali launched a desperate late rally, determined to salvage a result.
Under the leadership of the charismatic Kaba Kante, they fought valiantly, refusing to go down without a fight.
However, the Nigerian lads weathered the storm and emerged triumphant, securing their first victory in Group B of the exhilarating 2023 FIBA AfroCan tournament.
Nigeria will be up against the host nation, Angola, on a momentous Monday evening at 6 p.m.
Though Angola has always been a tough customer for Nigeria, the home-based D’Tigers will hope they can bring their A-game when they confront the host on Monday.
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