…Draw is tricky but fair- Kida, NBBF President
By Baba Muhammed
Nigeria’s male basketball national team, D’Tigers, have been drawn alongside Argentina, Russia and Korea in Group B of the 2019 FIBA World Cup for men which holds in China from August 31 to September 15, 2019.
Nigeria currently 33rd on the FIBA ranking will once again be facing familiar foes and world number 6, Argentina for the third time since their last 2 previous meetings at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It will however be the first ever meeting against world number 10, Russia who are making a return to the world stage after missing out in 2014.
World number 32, South Korea will hope to put the ghost of their 2014 World Cup behind them where they finished 23rd out of the 24 participating nations when both sides meet in the sprawling city of Wuhan.
Speaking after the draws, NBBF President, Engr Musa Kida described the group as fair but tricky pointing out that early preparation holds the key to a successful World Cup campaign.
“Now that we have known the teams that we will face, we need to start preparations in earnest if we are to make an impact in China. We are going to the World Cup as the number 1 team in Africa and the first country to qualify for the world cup globally on the back of a 9 -game unbeaten streak, so we have definitely drawn some attention”, he said.
The NBBF has already commenced preparations in earnest with the D’Tigers’ head coach, Alex Nwora in talks with some key players ahead of the World Cup.
“In the coming days, we shall reel out our World Cup preparation plans which will also go side by side with the African Games. If we get our acts right and get the needed players we are targeting, we can achieve a result that all Nigerians will be proud of”, Nwora stated.
Present at the event were FIBA President Horacio Muratore, new FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis and representatives of the 32 participating national teams. Nigeria was represented by D’Tigers team manager, Musa Adamu and Lawal Razaq Dayo (Nigerian high ranking embassy staff in China)
The event which heralds the first basketball World Cup with 32 teams was held in front of 8,000 spectators at Shenzhen Bay Arena.