[dropcap type=”2″]T[/dropcap]HE National men’s basketball team, D’Tigers have failed in their bid to defend their gold medal when they were beaten 61-60 by Egyptian yesterday and will now play Mali today for the bronze medal.
It was a heart-wrenching defeat for the Nigerian team, which failed to reproduce their best form, but still battled till the end of the game albeit to no avail.
The Egyptians got their tactics right and prevented the D’Tigers from getting into the game and racing a 19-10 lead in the first-quarter. However, at the end of the second quarter, the Nigerian team had leveled scores, giving hope to the fans in the hall.
However, the Nigerians were on the back-foot early in the third-quarter, but still clawed their way into the game, causing the Egyptians some moment of panic in the dying moments of the game.
The fans, especially the Congolese, who had thronged the hall to cheer Nigeria to victory left the hall dejected, while the Nigerian officials headed by National Sports Commission (NSC) Director General, Alhassan Yakmut stormed out of the venue in disappointment.
In the dressing room, the players were dejected and it took encouraging words from Coach Ahmed Sani to get some of them into the bus that took them back to the Games Village. However, the players must take blame for failing to deliver when it mattered most, but one of the players, told Sportinglife that is the nature of sports.
“In sports, you win some and you lose some. We did our best tonight, but it good enough to win us the game. However, we still have the bronze to play for, though it is disappointing that we could not make it to the final,” the player, who would not want his name mentioned, stated.
Against Mali tomorrow (Friday), the Nigerian team would have its hand full as the Malians have a lot of fans who reside around the Makelekele Gymnasium.