Lagos - Basketball pundit Wale Aboderin has said that the last minute qualification of the national team, D’Tigers, for the London Games has re-kindled his interest in the basketball event of the Olympics.
D’Tigers on Sunday defeated Dominican Republic 88-73 to qualify for the Olympics from 27 July to 12 August.
The national men’s team was able to defeat fifth ranked Lithuania 86-80 in the preliminary stage and fourth ranked Greece 80-79 in the quarter-finals.
They woke up to the call to secure a ticket to the Games by shaking off the 77-88 loss to Russia by beating Dominican Republic.
D’Tigers now join Tunisia as Africa’s second representatives at the Games.
Other countries that have qualified for the Olympics are Britain, U.S., Brazil, Australia, Spain, France, Argentina, China, Lithuania and Russia.
Aboderin, the President of Dolphins Basketball Club of Lagos, said the victory would propel him to watch the basketball event at the Olympics.
"Their qualification is absolutely wonderful. They surprised everybody; I thank God we got rid of some older players" he said.
According to him, some of the new boys that propelled the team to victory have yet to be polluted by the system.
"Most of them are coming into the country for the first time. They are absolutely wonderful," Aboderin added.
Also commenting, Felix Awogu, the General Manager of Super Sports, Nigeria, commended the efforts of D’Tigers, for overcoming their Dominican Republic opponents to qualify for the basketball event.
"It was quite interesting. I am excited, the players have made us proud, and our investments have not been in vain; they have equal chances of a medal at the Games.
"All they (D’Tigers) need to do now is to remain focused. They need to be properly motivated by the government to further raise their game at the Games proper.
"They were tactical in their approach and they will have to sustain the tempo at the Olympic Games.
"The boys are simply exceptional, their determination paid off," Awogu said.
Agboola Pinhero, a former Chairman, Lagos State Sports Council, also commended the team and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) for hoisting the country’s flag at the Olympics.
"I will say this is the first time the NBBF president is breaking the barrier by not using scouts but operated an open camp to select players," he said.
Pinhero said the team’s qualification also showed that trial matches and adequate funding of training tours before the competitions had yielded good results.
He said the D’Tigers’ performance at the qualifiers was a good omen for NBBF and the team.
"I will like to give kudos to the NBBF president, Tijani Umar and the technical crew of the team for a job well done," he said.
A former player and coach, Alabi Adelanwa, said the team had proved that the country was a good basketball nation and that it could return with a medal.
"I hope the teams in their group will help our boys to go far in the competition," he said.
On his part, the coach of Lagos-based Union Bank Basketball Club, Johnson Ayinla, described Nigeria’s qualification as unbelievable.
"I think our players have done the impossible with the little time they had to go through foreign training.
"By the grace of God Nigeria basketball will move forward from here because we are going to take advantage of this development," Ayinla said.