After receiving permission from the Nigerian government to return to action, the D’Tigers took to the court against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Kigali in their 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, losing the game 79-70.
The D’Tigers started the game well and ended the first quarter with a narrow 15-14 lead before Cape Verde turned the screw in the second quarter. The Blue Sharks ended the first half with a 39-26 lead over their West African opponents.
The second half brought about an improvement from the Nigerians, but they struggled to keep up their level consistently. They cut the Blue Sharks’ lead to nine points by the end of the third quarter, trailing 56-47. Both teams traded blows in the fourth quarter and despite the D’Tigers briefly taking a one-point lead, Cape Verde fought back to retake the lead and ultimately won the match 79-70.
Real Madrid Basketball star Walter Tavares put up a monstrous performance for Cape Verde with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks before he fouled out of the game. Ivan Almeida also contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds in the game.
Christian Mekowulu led the scoring for the D’Tigers in the match. The Basket Zaragoza player scored 13 points and 13 rebounds in the game. Sacramento Kings star Chimezie Metu contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for his country, and Ike Ndugba recorded 13 points and eight assists.
The D’Tigers lost only their second-ever match against their Cape Verdean counterparts. They will continue their FIBA World Cup Qualifiers against Mali and Uganda in the next two days.