By Bunmi Ogunyale
Nigeria’s D’Tigress have been handed tough draw ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Basketball Tournament slated between July 26 and August 8 this year.
The Nigerian lads were drawn in Group B of the tournament alongside hosts Japan, France and the United States of America.
The Otis Hughley Jr. tutored side will face United States of America acid test at the Saitama Super Arena in their first game of the series on July 27 before slugging it out with France and Japan at the same venue on July 30 and August 2 respectively.
In similar vein, D’Tigress drawn in Group B in the Men’s category will open their campaign at the Olympics against Australia on July 25.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will in a later date know her opponents in the Men’s category as some continents are still battling to qualify for the Olympics.
Twenty-four top teams from across the globe, 12 men and 12 women, will go for gold at the Olympics, starting July 25 in Tokyo.
The 12 teams qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Tournament in February last year through the four FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, which had 16 teams take part in Belgium, France and Serbia.
Eight teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Men’s Basketball Tournament. Teams designated as OQT winner will be those qualifying through the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Victoria, Canada; Split, Croatia; Kaunas, Lithuania; and Belgrade Serbia from June 29 to July 4, 2021. These four FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments were postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The winners of each OQT have been drawn into the Olympic Basketball Tournament’s four vacant positions.
FIBA Secretary General, Andreas Zagklis, said: “We are looking forward to enjoying the world’s best basketball players performing this coming July in the capital of Japan. FIBA is confident for the smooth delivery of the Olympic Basketball Tournaments based on the close partnership with the IOC and the TOCOG as well as on its own, proven operational capacity during the last seven months. Last October and November FIBA and its Regional Offices managed to have no less than 114 men’s and women’s national teams travel internationally and play safely in bio-secure hubs, performing approximately 12,000 PCR tests.”
In both tournaments, a new competition system has been put in place for Tokyo. The Group Phase will consist of three groups of four teams each. The teams placed first and second in each group, and the two best third-placed teams in the Group Phase qualify for the Final Phase.