By Babatunde Ogunrinde
Lagos – Col. Sam Ahmedu, a member of the Nigeria Basketball Federation Board (NBBF), on Thursday said that Nigeria could make the second round and beyond in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
Nigeria’s senior women’s national team, D’Tigress is scheduled to play in Group B with teams from Australia, Argentina and Turkey when the competition dunks off in Sept. 22.
Ahmedu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the team was capable of progressing into the knockout stages and also go all the way to win going by the quality of the players.
“I think we have a formidable team, it is true no African country has yet to get past the group stage but that was in the past and we cannot continue to leave in the past.
“The array of players we have are just phenomenon, they play in top leagues in Europe and other parts of the world and can’t be intimidated anymore.
“We have seen in their preparations that they are working hard ahead of the competition which is the mother of events in the year and a place for them to compete with the best.
“They know also what it takes because they meet with these players in their various leagues they play in so there is no cause for alarm,’’ Ahmedu told NAN.
Similarly, Franca Ukwoji, an ex-international backed the team to do well in Spain going by the quality of its.
“I think we have great girls that can make us proud, I have seen them train and also watched their friendly match against the Raptors of Lagos.
“They are a hardworking team but should not play any individual or selfish basketball but stick together like a team.
“Teamwork is very important, for any team to be successful they just have to play for each other and gel together.
“It will be a great thing if Nigeria get past the group stage with the arrays of talents that abound in the team,’’ Ukwoji said.
In the same vein, Sarah Imovbioh, who plays in the forward position, told NAN that the team was unfazed with the challenges coming from other teams in the group.
“We have a very good team; we work very hard and are confident of going far because this is our goal.
“We want to do this for ourselves and our country because we know that our basketball has truly come of age, we are no more pushovers.
“This is why we prepare so hard and very determined to shine in Spain,’’ Imovbioh said.
Nigeria is ranked 34 in the world and will work their socks off to overcome Australia, Argentina ranked number four and 15 respectively.
NAN reports that in 2014, the U.S. won the World Cup, while Nigeria placed 13th.