D’Tigers captain Ike Diogu is looking forward to making his debut for Nigeria at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China and believes winning a medal at the tournament is not beyond the team.
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China will hold from Saturday, 31 August till Sunday, 15 September.
“I am fired up ahead of the tournament in China. It’s a very important competition, we worked hard to qualify for the World Cup and the entire team is happy things ended up positively,” Diogu told FIBA.com.
“We wanted to end the qualifiers unbeaten, but unfortunately we lost two games during the final window. We made some mistakes and I think it’s a good thing because we will be able to work on them and improve going forward.”
The 35-year-old Diogu who averaged 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists to spearhead Nigeria’s return to the planetary basketball showdown after a 13-year absence remains confident that the D’Tigers have gained lot of experience and can rival the world’s best in China.
“We have a strong roster with players competing in top championships across the world. If they can stay healthy and be consistent, we’ll have every reason to be hopeful for a better performance as compared to 13 years ago.
“There is a great determination amongst the players. We feel like this could be our year to hit the big stage and send across a strong message that Nigerian basketball has immensely evolved.
“The World cup trophy may look a surreal objective but if we work hard and believe in ourselves, we can pick up a medal. That’s what is beautiful about the sport. Everything is possible in China.
“All my life I’ve played in top championships and I know what it means to play in a big tournament. I’ve learnt how to deal with the pressure and this is something I believe will be helpful to the team. I want to be an example for the others to follow, but above all I want to lead the team to success.
“I’m passionate about playing for Nigeria and every game for ‘D’Tigers’ is a blessing. We know the World Cup will be huge but we’re resolute on accomplishing something big in China,” Diogu concluded.