The Nigeria D’Tigers will open training camp on September 6 in preparation for the September window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers in Lagos. Stan Okoye and Ekene Ibekwe are two veterans making their debut for the qualifiers.
Ibekwe and Okoye both featured for the Nigerian team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and have been engaged with professional assignments across Europe and the United States since then. However, the duo, who were members of the historic squad that won the 2015 Afrobasket Championship for Nigeria are excited to be back.
The two Olympians who have just begun new seasons on new teams in Europe consider the opportunity to represent Nigeria whenever they are invited to be a great honor.
Okoye, who played for the Denver Nuggets at the 2018 NBA Summer League and recently signed to play for Zaragoza Basketball in Spain, says 2016 is sure a long time and he is excited to be back to play with his brothers.
“It feels good to be able to represent my country again. It’s been a while since I put on a Team Nigeria jersey and I can’t wait to feel that pride when I put it on again. I’ll be seeing a lot of familiar faces, which will be exciting, and I can’t wait to work with the brothers and staff that I haven’t met yet,” Okoye said.
The 6’11 Ibekwe feels just as excited. The two-time Olympian who won a championship with Team Redemption at the Drew League in August and recently signed a one-year deal with Levallois Metropolitans in France feels obliged to represent Nigeria again.
“I feel excited to get back together with some of my brothers. It’s about chemistry and winning,” Ibekwe said.
Ibekwe and Okoye are two of the twelve players invited by D’Tigers Head Coach Alex Nwora for the next round of the FIBA Men’s World Cup Qualifiers to be hosted in Lagos between the 14th and 16th of September.
The 12 man team expected to report to camp on the 6th of September will be headlined by Portland Trail Blazers’ Al-Farouq Aminu who last featured for Nigeria in 2015 when the team played in the FIBA Afrobasket.
Team Captain, Ike Diogu who recently inked a contract with Bayaman Vasqueros in Peurto Rico will return with a bang alongside Benjamin Uzoh, Ikenna Iroegbu, Mbamalu Bryant and Ikechukwu Nwamu.
Others who will be making sensational return to the star studded team include Stanley Okoye who last featured for the team in 2015 and the duo of Aminu Alade and Ekenechukwu Ibekwe who were part of the Rio 2016 Olympic adventure.
Benue State-born Christopher Obekpa who plays with Al Riyadi of Lebanon is making a return to the national team while France based Emenago Obinna Clinton and Akindele Ayodeji will be featuring again in the team that has been tagged “Killer Squad” by many.
The NBBF is confident that the players invited based on their current form and pedigree will do the nation proud in its quest to qualify for the 2019 World cup in China.
Currently topping group F with 12 maximum points from 6 games ahead of closest rival, Senegal with 11 points, D’Tigers will hope to make the home advantage count when they face Central Africa Republic, Ivory Coast and Senegal during the fourth window of the FIBA world cup qualifiers.
Winning all their 3 games at home will ensure an automatic qualification for the team with 3 matches left to play.
The Federation has assured that Nigeria’s best hands will always be invited irrespective of where they play.