Nigeria’s D’Tigress have lined up two warm-up games against Turkey in Istanbul in May (27-28), three weeks after opening their training camp in Abuja.
The games will form part of preparations for the Nigerian ladies ahead of their participation in the Rio Olympics qualifying tournament for the women’s basketball event.
The Nigerians finished third at AfroBasket Women 2015 and as a result secured a place at the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) in Nantes, France to be held from 13 June to 19 June.
A week before the WOQT, Nigeria will resume their warm-up games taking on Argentina (8-9 June) in France.
Nigeria head coach Scott Nnaji told FIBA.com that the country’s basketball federation is doing its best to meet the needs of the team and put it in a position to succeed.
D’Tigress last played in the Olympics in 2004, and in order to reach the Rio Olympics they will need to claim one of the five places at stake in Nantes.
They have been drawn in Group C along with Belarus and Korea. If they can win at least one game in the group, and win two more in the Final Phase, they will secure a place in Rio Olympics.
That is why Nnaji is calling the preparation games against Turkey and Argentina – who are also playing in the 12-team WOQT – “highly important” to measure the team’s potential.
“We expect the players to come to camp ready to face the challenge ahead,” Nnaji said.
Nnaji is expected to reveal Nigeria’s preliminary squad in early May and admits he is leaning towards making changes from the team that went 6-2 in Yaounde, Cameroon last October.
“We have a list [of players] that have shown interest to be part of the team, and we hope they will make it to the camp,” he explained.
It’s been 10 years since Nigeria last faced a European team in an official competition. At the 2006 FIBA Women’s World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, they lost 84-50 to Russia.
D’Tigress will open their WOQT campaign on 13 June against Belarus.