By Olalekan Okusan
American coach Mike Brown said Nigeria’s national basketball team is poised for a podium finish in Japan after D’Tigers claimed resounding victories over USA and Argentina in pre-Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Yesterday, Nigeria led by Miami Heat point guard Gabe Vincent beat world’s fourth-ranked Argentina 94-71. The team had on Saturday became the first African team to defeat the invincible Team USA with a 90-87 victory.
“We’re not there [Tokyo] just to represent Nigeria or Africa, or the black people of the world – we’re going there to try and win,” Brown said. “I am doing things to put us in a position to try and have that podium finish come Olympic time, which is very exciting for myself and everybody else involved.”
Brown said he was pleased with the conduct of the players on and off the court, adding they have collectively shown the Nigerian spirit that would be useful in Toyo.
He affirmed “As long as you behave the way your parents and grandparents raised you and give it your all on the court, you’re fine. Because all these guys, from what I’ve seen talking to them, were brought up in homes where they were brought up in the Nigerian way. So they all understand their roots very, very well and they are all passionate about their roots because of their parents and the people that came before them.”
For Tokyo, Nigeria relies on a strong community of diaspora players based in the United States.
“The fact that we are playing well in these games can lift the spirits of a lot of people, not only in Nigeria but also in the African continent. And also, there are a lot of black people in the world, especially in the diaspora, who identify with the African continent. And so, it can help to uplift, unite, connect an entire group,” the 2009 NBA Coach of the Year noted.
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