It may not have led to any additional wins, but Nigeria’s improvement over the course of their group play in the London 2012 Olympics should be commended. The D’tigers literally saved their best for last against the more talented French squad.
Depleted and coming off another blowout loss against the Argentinians, the team could have easily folded, but in true nature of the Olympic spirit they fought till the very end and should leave The Games, feeling like they’ve given it their all.
For an Olympic debut, I give the D’tigers an A for inspiring and a C grade for execution. They came in with such an emotional high from the Olympic qualifying tournament as the world waited to see the team that had caused such a ripple effect in the order of power when it comes to basketball in Lithuania and Greece.
Unfortunately on the biggest stage at the biggest moment, they failed to live up to expectations. Still, they fought hard every game and they got better every time they stepped on the court. Given what they had to work with, that’s all one could really ask.
My player of the tournament was surely Ike Diogu. Not only did he lead the Nigerian side in points and rebounds at 15 and 9 a game, he led them with his toughness and relentless effort despite being grossly undersized.
To those who may feel, this opportunity was a golden chance the Tigers let slip away, there is a saying that the journey of a million miles begins with one step. A giant step has been made and the true waste will be if in four years from now, Rio 2016, we wouldn’t have capitalized on this very moment.
I hope the Nigerian contingent understands that lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place in the same way if ever, unless of course your name ends in Bolt. I hope they appreciate the chance they have to build a foundation that can continue to grow the interest and quality of the game in Nigerian basketball both home and abroad.
Thanks to the D’Tigers unlikely road to London, we had an underdog to rally around. Overall I want to congratulate them and hoping this is just the beginning and not the end!