Nigeria’s D’Tigers began its FIBA Afrobasket Championship with an 81-73 win over Mali on Wednesday at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda.
The Nigerians started the game well and raced to a 28-12 first-quarter lead before allowing the Malians to come back in the second quarter. The Malians won the second quarter 16-31 and reduced the overall deficit to one point as halftime ended 44-43 in favour of Nigeria.
The 2015 winners rediscovered the first quarter momentum in the third and were 17 points better than their West Africa neighbours finishing 27-10 but then shrunk into their shells in the fourth quarter losing 10-20 to make it a game of two halves.
Benjamin Emelogu led the scoring for D’Tigers with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Coach Michael Brown speaking after the game appreciated the depth of Nigeria’s basketball team as the Kigali contingent consists majorly of players who were not in the Tokyo 2020 squad.
D’Tigers will next play Kenya on Friday in Group C that also has Cote D’Ivoire.