‘D’tigress needs good preparation to qualify for Olympics’
Ganiu Otenigbagbe, a veteran coach with the Lagos State Basketball Association, on Friday said that only good preparation could help Nigeria’s D’Tigress to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Otenigbagbe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that D’Tigress stood good chance of qualifying for the Olympics but certain cautions needed to be taken in their preparation.
“We have a good chance of qualifying for the Olympics, going by the quality of players we have in the national team.
“But we must take the preparation seriously because this has been the bane of many missed opportunities in the past.
“The players and handlers themselves need to work hard toward winning as other teams coming for the competition will come with their best players to fight for the ticket,’’ Otenigbagbe said.
Also Abimbola Faniran, a former Technical Director of the association, told NAN that the competition would be a tough one but with hard work, the D’Tigress would make the Olympics.
“I am happy the federation is making plans concerning the team’s preparation though one will expect at least a two months preparation based on the level of the competition.
“But the team still stand a chance to make it but it is going to be tough and they must be at their best in terms of performance and determination to make it,’’ Faniran said.
NAN reports that the camp for the preparation opens on May 9 in Abuja, while the team departs for the championship which begins on June 13 in France.
Nigeria is tagged along Belarus and South Korea in Group C, while Africa’s other representative, Cameroon, is in Group B with Argentina and Turkey.
Nigeria, currently ranked 42nd in the world after the 2015 Continental Championships, will begin their quest for a ticket against Belarus before taking on Korea for the sole ticket in the group.
If they progress, they will take on either the Group D runners-up or winners in the quarter-finals on June 17, where success is a direct qualification for the Summer Games.
The Group D teams include Spain, Venezuela and China.
NAN also reports that in the other groupings, Cuba, New Zealand and France occupy group A.
Only five slots are available for the 12 teams in the competition.
Nigeria’s D’Tigress competed in their first ever Summer Games at the 2004 Olympics in Greece, one of 10 events the national team qualified for.
The team earned their berth through a zone qualifying tournament and played in Group A along Australia, Brazil, Greece, Japan and Russia.
The team went home after losing their games to all their group opponents in the preliminary round.
However, in the 11/12th place game, they defeated Korea for a final finish of 11th out of 12 teams.
NAN reports that Nigeria became first women’s African basketball team to win a game at the Olympics.
Nigeria’s team captain Mfon Udoka was the team’s leading scorer and the tournament’s second highest scorer.
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