D’Tigers rounded off the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Championship qualifiers with a 76-56 points win over Mali, who struggled to cope with the offensive firepower of the Nigerians.
The win, which saw the team finish top of Group B on a 6-0 run, was spearheaded by captain Ike Diogu, who posted a double-double performance with 20pts and 11 assists.
With a 42.9 field goal percentage and three made treys from seven attempted shots, Diogu ensured a smooth victory for the team, whose immediate focus will be the 2020 Olympics and AfroBasket preparations.
After back to back struggles against South Sudan and Rwanda, basketball fans across the continent saw a different team who extended their unbeaten run in competitive games to nine.
The team, mindful of the task ahead, came out smoking with Ike Iroegbu and Mike Gbinije leading the offensive in the opening minutes as they raced to a 24-7 lead.
Gbinije ended with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals as Keith Omoerah continued his rich form in the national colors with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals on a day that all 10 players who stepped on court scored at least a point.
D’Tigers, the number one team in Africa, were way better as they out rebounded their opponents 48-39, scoring 15 points from turnovers as against 14 by the Malians.
The team scored 16 fast break points, Mali only managed seven, while the Tokyo 2020 Olympics bound team sank 18 second chance points to cap off an impressive win. Nigeria topped Group B with the maximum 12 points.
New entrants, South Sudan, finished second, Mali third, with 2021 AfroBasket hosts Rwanda finished bottom of the group.