Geographically extreme countries are the oppositions that the Nigerian men basketball team has drawn in the XXI Commonwealth Games holding in the city of Gold Coast, Australia in April.
Nigeria is grouped alongside Canada in the Northern Hemisphere and the ‘Down Under’ countries of Australia and New Zealand which are so nicknamed owing to their being the most southerly countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
Although the Nigerian side is the number one ranked in Africa, D’Tigers are however least ranked of the quartet in the group. Nigeria occupies number 32 in the world and will make a debut in the Commonwealth Games with the 25th world ranked side, Canada which and featured in the Olympic Games nine times and had won the silver medal at the 1936 Games in Berlin.
Hosts, Australia finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and currently ranked 10th in the world. New Zealand will be taking part in their 21st Commonwealth Games, having competed at every edition.
The group easily attract the adjective of being the ‘Group of Death’. The fixtures released by the organisers will see D’Tigers start their campaign against New Zealand on Friday 6th April 2018 before facing Canada, a day later.
On Monday, 10th of April, it will be a great battle against the host.
Reacting to the draws, Vice President of the NBBF, Babatunde Ogunade described it as a ‘Group of death.’
The former Nigerian captain said the team’s performance will be hinged on the preparation for the games and the decision of the players to step up and prove a point.
“We want to use it as preparation for the World cup qualifier in which case we bring in foreign based players to join their home grown counterparts for a longer period, get more practice and bonding time for the team.
“We will use the opportunity of the Commonwealth camping to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers of both windows.”
According to organisers, the top two teams in group A will proceed to the semi-finals stage while the bottom 2 teams from group A will play the top 2 teams from pool B in the qualifying finals with the 3rd A vs. 2nd B and 4th A vs. 1st B.
The order of the games will be determined during the competition. The camping has since opened on Friday, 5th of January, 2018 in Lagos