FIBA W’Cup: Nigeria rank ninth in Africa qualifiers


Ebenezer Bajela

Just over a week since Window 4 of the African Qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA World Cup came to a close, the basketball governing body, FIBA, has released the power rankings indicating where each team stands ahead of the final window in February 2023, The PUNCH reports.

Two defeats from three games during the recent 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Abidjan left Nigeria in a precarious position.

D’Tigers recorded one win in three games, losing 78-66 to hosts Ivory Coast on Friday night at the 3,500-capacity Palais des Sports Treichville and putting their qualification hopes for next year’s World Cup in a tight corner.

Stand-in coach Mfon Udoh guided the team to an 89-70 victory over Guinea in their second game to bounce back from their earlier defeat to the Ivoirians, but they were brought down to earth in their last game of the series, losing 70-67 to Angola.

Following the release of the power rankings by FIBA, Nigeria, after dropping four places, currently occupy the ninth position putting their chance of qualifying for the World Cup in jeopardy.

By this time in the 2019 World Cup African Qualifiers, Nigeria boasted a 9-0 mark and were one of the two teams – alongside Tunisia – to have qualified to the China showdown.

However, having three different head coaches (Julius Nwosu, Alan Major and Mfon Udofia) over the last nine games, plus a number of new players and an apparent lack of team chemistry seem to have influenced Nigeria’s current 3-4 record.

The two losses to Angola and Ivory Coast in Abidjan last week were a major blow for Nigeria to deal with.

Making it to the Indonesia-Japan-Philippines showpiece has become an uphill task for D’Tigers, but not impossible to overcome.

Meanwhile, Ivory Coast, who are the only team t have qualified for the World Cup in Africa occupy the first position.

By winning all their African Qualifiers games so far and becoming the first team on the continent to qualify for next year’s World Cup – with three games left – the Ivorians have reached the pinnacle of their basketball over the last decade.

Ivory Coast are returning to the World Cup for the second straight time.

South Sudan, Egypt, Egypt and Angola occupy the second, third, fourth and fifth positions respectively.

Cape Verde, Tunisia and Dr Congo are the other teams ahead of Nigeria in sixth, seventh, and eighth positions.

Sixteen African teams are competing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers through five tournament windows over 15 months.

The qualifiers run from November 2021 to February 2023, with five African national teams earning a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup scheduled to hold from August 25 to September 10, 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and The Philippines.