Nigeria’s overwhelming performance at the FIBA women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 has placed the men’s team in a position that they must perform according to Ben Uzoh.
The point guard noted that D’ Tigers had been inspired by this and hoped they can achieve great things this summer, when they return to the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time since 2006.
At China 2019, where the 2015 African champions will open their campaign against Argentina, Korea and Russia in the first round Group B, Uzoh would be living out a dream of playing on basketball’s biggest stage and wants to do it by improving on Nigeria’s previous World Cup outings in 1998 and 2006.
Uzoh described Nigeria’s opponents – Argentina, Russia and Korea as strong teams that should not be taken for granted, but he believed the D’Tigers can give them a run for their money.
“Hopefully this World Cup stage would be one of Nigeria’s best experiences yet. As a unit, we like our chances,” said the 1.91m (6ft 3in) playmaker that averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steal in 9 games during the African qualifiers.
“We have a competitive group of teams with respected history. No fear, just respect. Definitely, I have a ton of respect for the countries in our pool and their history but I feel we’re a dark horse that can compete beyond the preliminaries.”
“A shout-out to our senior women’s squad! Both of our success in recent years shines a greater light on Nigeria and Africa,” Uzoh said. “Personally, the World Cup means a great deal to me, as it’s a stage I’ve never been on. But any time I share the court and a stage with my brothers in representing the country, it takes on a whole greater meaning for me.”
In terms of preparations for the World Cup, Uzoh pointed to chemistry and preparation as a pair of key factors.
“I feel both of those will be key factors to maintain the success we had in the qualifiers,” he said, before recalling that playing in front of home fans in the qualifiers was a good experience. “Playing in Lagos in front of family and friends will be forever memorable.”