Nigeria’s D’Tigers failed to defend their title as they were defeated by Hosts Tunisia 77-65 in Saturday’s final match of the FIBA AfroBasket in Tunis.
Meanwhile, Ike Diogu spanked Senegal with a game-high 20 points but his effort was not good enough to avoid defeat for the Nigerian side who were the defending champions.
Diogu was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), headlining the All-Star Five Awards offered by Tissot.
He was joined by Ikenna Iroegbu (Nigeria); Mohamed Hadidane (Tunisia),Mourad El Mabrouk (Tunisia) and Gorgui Dieng(Senegal).
D’Tigers are the sixth most successful African team at the AfroBasket Championship behind Angola, Egypt, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Central African Republic with one gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Nevertheless, Nigeria’s title aspirations didn’t go in vain being the tournament highest scorer team.
Two years ago – at the same venue – Nigeria lost to Tunisia in the Group Phase, but they responded with four straight victories to win the trophy for the first time-ever while Tunisia finished in Third-Place.
The 34-year-old power forward Diogu – a three-time FIBA AfroBasket participant – has become an all-round for Nigeria averaging team-highs 22 points and eight rebounds per game.
As the team came as runners up in 2017 edition, we go down the memory lane to recall how the team has fared in the previous Championships…
Nigeria won the Championship for the first time in Tunisia. D’ Tigers defeated Angola in the final 74–65.
Chamberlain Oguchi was named the Most Valuable Player of the Championship. The triumph at the Championship meant automatic qualification for Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics.
Before the final, the team played in Group A with Tunisia, Central African Republic and Uganda. They overcame Central African Republic 88-63 and Uganda 98-59 respectively but lost their third match against Tunisia 70-59.
D’Tigers eliminated Mozambique by 83-47 in the Round of 16 stages of the competition, won 88-64 against Gabon in the quarterfinals. Nigeria defeated Senegal 88-79 at the Saille Omnisport de Rades in the semifinals.
Nigeria finished in seventh place in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire after beating Morocco 105-87 in the Classification Match for the seventh and eighth placed teams.
Before then, D’Tigers topped Group D of the Championship, winning all three games against Mali (74-59); Congo (93-75) and Cameroon (91-84).
The Nigerian men zoomed into the quarter-finals of the Championship with a 112-75 win over Central African Republic.
However the team’s best efforts towards reaching the last four came crashing down with a painful 64-63 loss to Senegal in the quarter-finals.
D’Tigers won bronze in 2011 in Madagascar behind Tunisia and Angola. The Nigerians defeated Ivory Coast 77-67 in the third place match.
Before then, D’ Tigers topped Group A of the competition that comprised Madagascar, Mozambique and Mali. They defeated the Malians 84-59 in their first game and followed that up with a 78-63 and 112-81 wins against Mozambique and Madagascar respectively.
In the Round of 16, Nigeria won against Chad 84-46, and got the better of Central African Republic 94-86 in a quarterfinals masterclass.
They however lost by 76-68 in the semifinals before the third place victory over the Ivorians.
Emerging as the Zone 3 winners, Nigeria’s D’ Tigers campaigned in Group A along with Ivory Coast, Libya and South Africa in this 25th edition of the Championship held in Libya.
The Nigerian side finished in fifth place behind Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde and Egypt. They defeated the Ivorians 93-84 in their first game at the Suliman Ad-Dharrath Arena, Benghazi. They won their next game 97-49 against South Africa and defeated hosts Libya 97-81 in their last group match.
Cameroon defeated Nigeria 84-80 in the quarter-finals of the Championship. In the fifth/sixth place Classification match, D’ Tigers were nine points better than the Central African Republic with an 80-71 victory.
D’ Tigers finished as the fifth best team when the African continent witnessed the 24th edition of the Championship in Angola.
D’Tigers finished top of Group C of the Championship with six points. They walloped Liberia, Central African Republic and DR Congo 109-35, 77-54 and 90-74.
They were 80-46 winners over Central African Republic in the 5th-8th place match and overcame Tunisia 83-82 in the fifth place game.
The tournament was hosted by Angola and the Nigerian side were ensconsed in Group A with Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Ivory Coast and Gabon.
D’ Tigers defeated Algeria 88-76 in the third place match to claim the bronze after quite a difficult encounter. But they had to contend against heavyweights Ivory Coast (87-56), Mali(83-77), Tunisia (78-65). On 19 October 2005, Algeria pipped D’ Tigers 73-72.
The next day however Nigeria shrugged off the disappointment against the north Africans by defeating Gabon 66-57.
In 2003 in Egypt, D’Tigers won silver, losing 85-63 to Angola in a keenly contested finale. They topped Group A of the competition despite a poor start losing 77-62 to Algeria.
They bounced back with wins against CIV (83-61), Central African Republic (69-64), Egypt (69-56), Mozambique (83-41). D’ Tigers then defeated Senegal 78-55 in the semifinals stage.
It was a fifth place finish for D’ Tigers in 2001 who defeated hosts Morocco 79-66 in their Classification game.
Finishing third in Group B behind Algeria and Angola, the Nigerians results were: South Africa (64-47, win), Senegal (80-65, win), Angola (54-43, defeat), Algeria (59-58, win) and Central African Republic (59-56, win).
Hosts Angola defeated D’ Tigers 79-72 in the final of the 1999 FIFA Afro Basket. The Nigerian side gave the Angolans a rough ride but tellingly were slightly bettered by the more experienced team.
Nigeria emerged second in Group 2 behind Angola. They reached the semis and defeated Egypt 69-54 before the Angola clash in the final.
Hosts Senegal won their fifth title at the Championship at the expense of Nigeria with a 69-48 win on August 3 1997.Getting the better of teams like Senegal, Central African Republic, Cote d’ Ivoire and South Africa in the group stage, D’Tigers went on to defeat Egypt 61-51 in the semifinals.
D’Tigers defeated Algeria 58-51 in the third place match of the 1995 FIBA Afro Basketball Championship in Algeria to clinch the bronze medal.
The Nigerian men campaigned in Group A with Algeria, Morocco, CIV and Zaire and finished second in the table behind Algeria with seven points.They defeated Ivory Coast 61-57, Morocco 63-52 and Zaire 70-52. Algeria however beat them 57-47 on Day 5 of the Championship to wrap up the group’s games.
D’Tigers lost 74-56 to Angola in the semifinals and got their pound of flesh against Algeria in the third place match with a 58-51 win on 18 December.
D’Tigers finished third in Group A behind hosts Egypt and Mali with eight points. They lost 89-85 to the Egyptians, lost 75-63 to Mali, defeated Algeria 75-72 and defeated Cameroon 70-66.
The Nigerian side beat Central African Republic 99-77 in the Classification match which saw them end in fifth place.
Nigeria lost 89-77 to Ivory Coast in one of the Classification Matches of the 1987 Afro Basket Championship hosted by Tunisia.
The team finished bottom of Group A after 79-64 loss against Tunisia, 71-68 win over Mali and 87-67 defeat in the hands of Angola.
In the classification match, D’Tigers were beaten by Ivory Coast to finish joint eighth with Algeria. However by virtue of having a better record at that stage of the competition with one win and three defeats as against Algeria’s four defeats, the Nigerians could be considered slightly better at this competition.
Nigeria won their Classification Match 74-69 against Tunisia which saw them finish in seventh place in 1985 when Ivory Coast hosted and won the Championship.
They had lost 87-68 to Guinea, and 85-84 to Mauritania. Senegal got the better of Nigeria on Day 3 of the competition with a 97-93 win. Egypt outclassed the Nigerians 105-51 on Day 5 of the competition.
The competition was held in Rabat, Morocco in 1980 and it turned out to be one of Nigeria’s worst performance at the Championship as they finished bottom in the standing, crashing out in the group stages.
After starting brilliantly with an opening day win against Mauritania whom they defeated 87-68, D’ Tigers then lost their subsequent matches (103-90 versus Congo), (94-73 versus Senegal), (107-92 versus Algeria) and (98-97 versus Somalia)
D’ Tigers were the sixth place team when the curtains fell in the 1978 FIBA Africa Basketball Championship in Senegal.
Pooled in Group A with Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Gambia and Senegal, the Nigerians defeated Gambia 124-69 in their first match; lost 104-56 to Senegal, bounced back to defeat Mauritania 78-69 in their next match but lost to the Ivorians in their last group outing, a 92-88 defeat.
Morocco defeated Nigeria 98-94 in the 5th/6th place Classification match.
Nigeria finished last in the 1972 FIBA Africa Basketball Championship in Senegal which was the country’s first appearance at the competition.
D’ Tigers were in Group A with Senegal whom they lost to by a whopping 101-30 in their first game. In their next game, they lost 101-45 to Mali; 96-52 to Tunisia; 101-50 to Cameroon and finally completing a miserable outing with a 105-73 loss to Madagascar.