D’Tigers will begin its quest to win the elusive FIBA Africa Nations Cup today with a match against its Central Africa Republic (CAR) counterpart.
Also later today, the other two countries in Group A of the competition, host, Tunisia, and debutants, Uganda, will square up against each other.
It will be recalled that D’Tigers has never won the continental showpiece, but has finished as runners up on three different occasions. That was in 1997, 1999 and 2003 in Senegal, Angola and Egypt respectively.
In 1997 final, Nigeria lost 69-48 to host, Senegal. The same was the case in 1999, where the Nigerian side lost to host, Angola, 79-72. When Egypt hosted the championship in 2003, the Angolan side beat D’Tigers 85-65 to win the tournament. Overall, Nigeria has won both silver and bronze medals three times apiece.
D’Tigers’ first encounter against CAR was in 1997. Nigeria won 77-57. Also in 2001, Nigeria beat CAR 59-56. In 2003, Nigeria also defeated CAR 69-64.
In 2005, they met in the quarter-final with Nigeria winning 63-51. Also in 2013, Nigeria defeated CAR in the second round 112-75.
So, as D’Tigers is set to start the quest to rewrite its rather mixed history in this championship, coach of the side, William Voigts, has vowed to put up impressive performance.
“I am not unaware of the kind of opposition we are going to play against, especially the host country, Tunisia, but we will hold our own (against them all).”
D’Tigers plays Uganda in its second match before confronting fellow favourites and host, Tunisia in the match that will obviously determine the way the leadership pendulum will swing in the group.