New FIBA rule hands D’Tigers Olympics boost


Ebenezer Bajela

National men’s basketball team D’Tigers have been handed a lifeline of playing at the 2024 Olympics scheduled for Paris, The PUNCH reports.

Two defeats from three games during the recent 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Abidjan left Nigeria in a precarious position. With Nigeria not yet guaranteed a place at next year’s World Cup in Japan, Indonesia and The Philippines, an outing in Paris had seemed out of reach.

But with the new rule, even if they do not make the 32-team World Cup, D’Tigers will still have an opportunity to reach the 2024 Olympics going by the latest FIBA rule.

Prior to the new rule, teams that qualified for the last eight of the World Cup were guaranteed a place at the Olympics, while others would have to battle it out for a slot in another set of qualifiers.

However, a statement on the FIBA website indicated that Nigeria, top-ranked basketball country in Africa, still stood a chance to slug it out in the newly introduced Olympics qualifying tournament.

“While most of the teams going to the Olympics will do so with their performances at the World Cup, as happened when teams booked their places in China 2019 for the Tokyo Games, there will still be a path to Olympic qualification, thanks to the newly introduced pre-OQTs that will offer tickets for the OQTs,” the website read.

“Seven teams that do not make it from the Second Round of the African Qualifiers for the World Cup will be eligible, as well as the best-ranked team (in the FIBA World Ranking) that did not play in the Second Round, so eight teams.

“Five countries that do not make it to the World Cup from the Second Round of the Americas Qualifiers will be eligible for the pre-OQTs, as well as the three teams with the highest FIBA World Ranking that didn’t play in the Second Round.”

The world body added, “Eight of the teams in the Asian Qualifiers that come up short of the World Cup will also be eligible to take part in the pre-OQTs.

“Five countries will make it out of the pre-OQTs and advance to the 24-team OQT field. They will join 16 teams that will be in the OQTs, irrespective of region and based on the World Cup rankings (finishes), as well as three other teams based on the World Cup rankings – the next best-ranked teams from Africa, the Americas and Asia.

“The winners of the OQTs will join Olympic hosts France (pending decision of the Central Board), along with the other teams that clinch places in the Paris Games with their performances at the World Cup.”