The Nigeria senior men basketball team, D’Tigers will travel to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso today for the first leg tie against the Burkinabe in group E double qualifiers for the 29th Afrobasket and the 11th All Africa Games.The 18-man Nigerian contingent, led by the president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Tijjani Umar will slug it out with Burkina Faso on Monday, with the return leg slated for March 25 in Nigeria.The squad is made up of 12 players, with 10 of them drawn from the Nigerian DStv Premier Basketball League and two foreign-based stars.Nigeria’s hope of making her 17th appearance at Africa’s biggest basketball showpiece rest on coaches Sani Ahmed and Ayinla Johnson and the 12 players that include Olumide Oyedeji (centre), Ejike Ugboaja (forward), Stanley Gumut (forward), Abubakar Usman (guard), Matthew Onmonya (forward) and Ibrahim Yusuf (guard/forward).Other players in the squad are Adeolu Olaiya Ojo (guard), Abdulwahab Yakubu (guard), Abdulwahab Yahaya (forward), Azuoma Dike (guard), Dele Ademola (forward) and Abayomi Oyeniyi (forward). The delegation also has Muktar Khaleh, Patrick Okeke (S.G, NBBF); Patrick Omorodion (media); Dr. Ohida Suleiman (team doctor) and Dayo Ogunkunle (physio).Coach Sani Ahmed has assured that the team will not disappoint Nigerians as the players and its handlers have their mind set on picking the sole slot from the group.“We respect our opponent (Burkina Faso) but they are not capable of stopping from qualifying for both the Afrobasket and All Africa Games as we looking forward to challenging for the Afrobasket title and also defending our All Africa Games gold medal won four years ago in Mozambique.“The players are ready to prove that they are worthy ambassadors of Nigeria basketball and mentally, physically and psychological prepared for the two-leg qualifier”, Ahmed concluded.Meanwhile, the Nigerian camp was in high spirit yesterday following the arrival of veteran D’Tigers captain Olumide Oyedeji.The London Lions center who completed his second training with the team yesterday, disclosed that the team is in high spirit and will come back to Lagos for the 2nd leg with nothing short of victory.“The guys are set and we are ready. All we want to qualify for Tunisia 2015 and that’s what we plan to do in Burkina Faso and later at home here in Nigeria”.Oyedeji joins former NBA draftee Ejike Ugboaja, who is set for Greece after the qualifiers, following his move from Turkish 2nd Division League side Istanbul Teknik Universiti, where he starred in the 2013/2014 season, as the only foreign based players in the squad.The team leaves for Burkina Faso capital via Asky Airline on Friday for the March 16 encounter.
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