Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball national team, D’Tigers, are through to the championship match of the 2015 Afribasket after an 88-79 win over Senegal.
Chamberlain Oguchi was, for the umpteenth time at this year’s tournament, Nigeria’s saving grace, raking in 28 points to fire his country into their fourth ever final at the Afrobasket – their first in 12 years.
Minnesota Timberwolves centre Gorgui Dieng topped Senegal’s leaderboard with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
D’Tigers were shy of fellow West African oppositions Senegal in Free-throws, trailing by a 69% to 93% differentials after the buzzer but maintained their impressive shooting range to finish 32% to 28% on 3 points – Oguchi posting eight of his 13 efforts – and 53% to 45% on 2 points.
Coach Will Voight’s team rotation was instrumental to the win as D’Tigers’ bench came up with an impressive 21-point compliment.
The win took Nigeria’s dominance over Senegal on head-to-head records to 4-1- their only defeat coming at the quarter-finals stage of the 2013 Afrobasket in Abidjan.
D’Tigers could make history tomorrow when the face winners of the second semi-final between Tunisia and Angola in Rades, as a win would see them claim their first continental title as well as automatic qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Nigeria nine-point lead in the second half could not stand the test of time as Ibrahima Thomas sunk a ‘three’ to give Senegal a 37-35 lead at the break.
D’Tigers were coasting to a 76-73 win in the final minute of the regulation, but Dieng forced an overtime with a three-point shot.
Oguchi, nonetheless, proved equal to the task with a three-pointer of his own 1:07 minutes from time to take Nigeria’s lead to 82-76.
Olaseni Lawal regularly preyed the Senegalese’s defense and ended up with an emphatic 17 points and 11 rebounds.