D’Tigers Miss Out on Automatic Quarterfinal Qualification after 68-77 Loss to Cote d’Ivoire

Nigeria’s senior men’s national basketball team, D’Tigers, will on Tuesday have a second opportunity to secure pick the quarter-final ticket at the ongoing 2021 FIBA AfroBasket in Rwanda after missing out on automatic qualification on Sunday with a 68-77 loss to group leaders Cote d’Ivoire.

The defeat to Cote d’Ivoire means Nigeria finished second and failed to secure Group C’s automatic quarter-final ticket but earned a quarter-final qualifying fixture on Tuesday.

The Nigerian men’s national team lost three of the four quarters of their final group phase fixture, played at the City Arena in Kigali.

D’Tigers knew a win was all they needed to topple Cote d’Ivoire and move into the top spot. It would have earned them a top-place finish and automatic qualification for the quarter-finals which will begin on Wednesday.

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The Nigerians defeated the Ivorians 83-66 on Sept. 6 of 2019 when they last met, in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup, but this counted for nothing on Sunday.

With Nigeria now parading a different set of players in Kigali, and not even the team which impressed at the Tokyo Olympics, D’Tigers have been largely unimpressive.

They lost the first quarter 11-20, won the second 23-19, and then failed to sustain the momentum by losing the last two quarters 13-15 and 21-23.

Benjamin Emelogu was again the team’s top performer, with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ikenna Ndugba also had six assists and two steals.

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D’Tigers had earlier beaten Mali 81-73 and Kenya 71-55, and they have now finished second in their group with five points from three matches.

Earlier in the day at the same venue, Kenya had beaten Mali 72-66 to finish third in the group.

Cote d’Ivoire advance to the quarter-finals automatically, while group runners-up Nigeria will face Group D’s third-placed team which could be Uganda.

Group D’s second-placed side, South Sudan, are already ahead of Uganda in their final group phase game.

If they hold on to second place, they will then face Kenya in the final quarter-final qualifier on Tuesday.

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