New D’Tigers coach, Mike Brown, named Ike Iroegbu, Ike Diogu, Obi Emegano, Keith Omoerah, and Mike Gbinije as his starting five in his first match in charge against the South Sudan on Thursday in the first game of Group D qualifiers taking place in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Nigerian team won three of the four quarters to beat Algeria’s replacements, South Sudan, 76-56. Caleb Agada led the D’Tigers with 16 points, followed by Iroegbu with 13 points. The first quarter ended 22-17 for the Nigerians; who pulled further away in the second quarter with a 24-12 blowout.
South Sudan won the third quarter 20-15, but the Nigerians nullified that charge with a 15-7 score in the fourth quarter.
The Nigerian team were the more effective from the three-point line – shooting 40 pecent to South Sudan’s 15 percent, but the Sudanese had greater joy in the paint, making 37 percent of their shots as against 33 percent for the Nigerians.
Diogu, making a return to the team, said in the post-match press conference he was happy that the team got the win, especially because the players were coming together for the first time.
“Practice time has been limited. This is actually our first game, so it is good to get our feet wet and get some live competition.
Brown met most of the Nigerian players for the first time this week and is coaching in Africa for the first time, but he described the experience as an “exciting” one.
“The guys we have here are fantastic individuals, and obviously they are good basketball players.”
Brown also spoke about the new experience of playing against a team coached by a player [Luol Deng] he used to coach at Cleveland Cavaliers.
Their next game for Nigeria is against the hosts, Rwanda, on Saturday.