By Joe Apu
Nigeria on Thursday extended their FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers winning streak to five games courtesy of a 64-51 points win over Rwanda.
The win takes Nigeria to 10 points on the Group D table. D’Tigers had a better game compared to their outing against a stubborn South Sudan team that put Nigerians on the edge of their seats in a game that ended 75-70 points on the opening day of the qualifiers in Monastir, Tunisia.
Rwanda still smarting from the first window loss of 62-83 last November started the game on a fast pace and took the first quarter 14-22 but soon lost steam in the second quarter as they fell 16-9. The third quarter was drab as both teams were low on scoring and ending it 14-10 while in the fourth quarter Nigeria put her foot on the pedal scoring 20-10 points to put Rwanda on the last rung of the table.
Rwanda’s Alex Olenga Mpoyo led the floor with 14 points and 5 rebounds but it was not enough to stop Nigeria’s flow. However, Keith Omoerah was the highest scoring player on the Nigerian side with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
In his post-match conference, stand-in Head Coach, Mfon Udofia praised his team for their resilience.
He told journalists that the victory was a pointer to the overall quality of the team with the bench contributing a total of 3 points and 8 assists.
“It’s a tale of two halves. We came out after a slow start; we picked it up, settled down, got stops and got the win.”
One of the most experienced players in the team, Ben Uzoh said he never expected Rwanda to just roll over and give the team an easy passage.
“Every time we take to the court, especially here in Africa, everybody wants to give us their best shots. Hats off to the way Rwanda played in the first half, but hats off more for us to regroup during the half time and come out to really play Nigerian basketball. I am glad we came out victorious”.
With the 2021 Afrobasket ticket already secured, Nigeria sits pretty atop group D and will face Mali on Friday with a win as top priority in its quest to conclude the series unbeaten.