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D’Tigers Maul Rwanda in FIBA World Cup Africa qualifiers

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Nigeria’s senior male basketball team, D’Tigers, made it two straight wins at the 2019 FIBA World Cup Africa qualifiers in Bamako, Mali on Saturday by defeating Rwanda 103-53.

The Nigerians first defeated Uganda on Friday 102-86.

Talib Zanna was Nigeria’s top performer  on Saturday against Rwanda as he contributed 14 points with six rebounds and four assists to a collectively effective performance by the D’Tigers.

They dominated proceedings as Nigeria converted 88 per cent of their two-point field goals against Rwanda’s 50 per cent in the quest for a ticket to the World Cup.

The Rwandans converted 12 per cent of their three-point field goals against Nigeria’s 43 per cent.

Elie Kaje was the star for the Rwandans as he weighed in 15 points with five rebounds.

This week’s first-leg of Group B action marks the second of six windows on the Road to China 2019.

In order to secure a place in the African Qualifiers’ 12-team second-round, teams need to finish in the top-three of their groups.

Speaking after the match, D’Tigers top player Ike Diogu expressed confidence that the Nigerian side would get to host Group B action in Lagos during the June-July window.

“I can imagine what the atmosphere would be like playing before our home fans. It will be exciting for me and others as well.

“Most of the time we’ve played for Nigeria, it’s been outside of the country but the idea that the third window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers could be at home thrills me.

“I will look forward to it,” the 34-year-old Diogu, who had a dozen points against Rwanda, said.

Turning his attention to the current window of the African Qualifiers, Diogu said his team did not come to Mali thinking that it would be a stroll in the park.

“No team here is a pushover and that is why we can’t afford to lose focus,” he cautioned.

“Every team in the Qualifiers has the equal opportunity of going through to the next round. But as a team, we take it one game at a time.

“Every game is important to us, knowing that our ultimate ambition is getting a ticket for the World Cup in China. It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll get there.”

With the victories against Uganda and Rwanda, D’Tigers maintain their 100 per cent record at the competition so far and top Group B.

Nigeria’s next match is against hosts Mali on Sunday at 7 p.m. local time. [NAN]

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