Turkey-based basketball player, Michael Eric has urged Nigeria’s sports authorities to ensure they give the national team, D’Tigers the best form of preparations for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, megasportsarena.com reports.
Eric was ecstatic after D’Tigers defeated host China 86-73 points yesterday in the classification game of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup to secure Africa’s sole ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
D’Tigers fought a bruising battle to claim the ticket after initially starting the World Cup with two defeats against Russia and Argentina in their Group B pairing.
China were also desperate for an automatic ticket from Asia, but the Nigerian players were full of sheer determination all through the game in Guangzhou, and Eric says it was because they went into the match with a resolution not to leave without the Tokyo 2020 ticket.
After dropping the first quarter 21-19, they began to assert their authority, using superior skill and strength to outsmart the Semi Asian Tigers to clinch the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters, 16-10, 25-20, 26-22 on the day that four players recorded double figures.
They ended the first half 35-31 points, en route to marking the first time D’Tigers recorded the highest number of three wins in a single World Cup.
Josh Okogie, who shot 16 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds to help Nigeria to the victory, was voted Man of the Match while Nnamdi Vincent scored 14 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound, with the duo of Ekpe Udoh and Chimezie Metu also netting 13 and 11 points respectively.
After playing a role in helping D’Tigers pick a ticket to Tokyo 2020, with three straight victories at the ongoing FIBA World Cup in China, Eric said he is happy to part of the historic squad, but urged Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and the ministry of sports to avoid a repeat the hitches the team faced before the Mundial.
He added during an interview with Brila FM that it would be demoralizing if D’Tigers faced a repeat of the camp upheavals, money issues and flight hitches that hit them before heading out to China, as he warns such could debar their ambitions of doing well at the Olympiad next year.
The son of ex-international goalkeeper, Joseph AEric (aka Joe Erico) went on to declared that he is happy with the privilege of contributing to Nigeria’s image through sports, as he is also using his hands through basketball, just as his father did as a shot-stopper for the then Green Eagles.
Eric reasoned: “I am happy that we are going to the Olympics, but I have a message for the federation and the sports ministry.
“They should help us, so that we the same problems we faced before going to China. Issues of camping, money matters and arrangement of flights should not come up again. We want everything to be smooth this time.
“To the fans, I say Naija no dey carry last. I am also proud of the privilege of being in this team, being able to play basketball though my dad was a football goalkeeper. I am happy that I also have the privilege to help Nigeria the same way he did.”