Nigeria beat Mali 82-59 as World Cup qualifiers end in Bamako

Pius Ayinor

Nigeria defeated Mali 82-59 in Bamako Sunday night as the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers for Group B ended in the West African country, reports. It was three wins for D’Tigers in three straight matches played over the weekend as teams battle across the world to secure places to the 2019 World Cup in China. The next stage of the qualifying matches will start from June 29.

The Nigerians started off with 102-86 win over Uganda before blowing away Rwanda 108-53 on Saturday. The grand victories have put Nigeria top of the group ahead of the second round games June 29. No venue has been decided but it is believed that the next games would hold in Nigeria or Rwanda.

On Sunday Nigeria’s consistent big scorer Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu hit 22points and grabbed 9 rebounds to post the best marks on the score sheet. Emegalo made 15 points for Nigeria; Ikenna Mbamalu scored 14 points, hitting 21.4% of field goals while Djambo hits 9 points for the Malians.

The first quarter was Mali’s undoing on Sunday as Nigeria ran away 21-5 after the hosts could not score any point in the first five minutes of play. The five points eventually all came off free throws. The second quarter was tied at 16-16 but the Malians shook off their poor start to win the third quarter at 21-20. The Tigers rallied again to win the fourth stage by 25-17.