D’Tigers Head Coach, Alex Nwora, has invited 15 players for the last window of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifiers taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from February 18.
A statement from the Media Officer of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Afolabi Oni, on Wednesday, said the team was made up of players who missed out of the last phase of the qualifiers campaign hosted in Lagos.
Oni said: “Jekiri Tonye will likely make his debut after missing out of action in the last window due to administrative reasons, while Christopher Obekpa, Obinna Emegano and Efevhera Michael will also be making a return.
“Ekene Ibekwe whose last appearance was at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and 34 year old Michael Umeh (2015 Afrobasket) with Italian serie A side Virtus Bologna have both been recalled to the fold.”
Team captain and Sichuan Blue Whales player, Ike Diogu alongside, Stanley Okoye, Alade Aminu, Iroegbu Ike, Ike Nwamu, Ayodeji Akindele, Mbamalu Bryant, Zana Talib and Braxton Ogbueze complete the list of players invited.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nigeria will slug it out with host- Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and second placed Senegal with 16 points.
Nwora, whose team is currently ranked 33 in the world and first in Africa, stressed that D’Tigers would hope to finish the campaign on a high note, to boost the team’s rating before the World Cup draws.
He said the preparation for the 2019 World Cup in China has started in earnest and it was imperative to give more quality players equal opportunity to fight for shirts.
He said: “We were the first country in the world to qualify for the World Cup and it is very important that we start our preparation early.”
“The journey to get the team ready for the World Cup is a long one, but I am happy with the progress we have made so far.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the NBBF, Chimezie Asiegbu, says, players and Technical crew are expected to fly straight to Abidjan from their clubs for logistics reasons.
Full list of invited players
Iroegbu Ike (Science City Jena, Germany), Michael Umeh (Twarde Pieniki, Poland) Ike Nwamu (Wisconsin Herd, USA), Ekene Ibekwe (Levallois Metropolitan, France) and Efevhera Michael (Homemtmen Basketball Club, Lebanon).
Stanley Okoye (Tecynconta Zaragoza, Spain), Diogu Ike (Sichuan Blue Whales, China), Alade Aminu (Hapoel SP Tel Aviv, Israel), Christopher Obekpa (Al Riyadh, Lebanon) and Ayodeji Akindele (Fuerza Regia Basquetbol, Lebanon)
Jekiri Tonye (Gaziantep, Turkey), Obinna Emegano (Rouen Basket, France), Mabamalu Bryant (CD Vildivia, Chile), Zana Talib (Montakit Fuenlabrada, Spain) and Braxton Ogbueze (Basquet Coruna, Spain).