Over the past few days, the Nigerian National Basketball team has made international waves by beating team USA and team Argentina, world-ranked number 1 and 4 respectively. Their wins have been met with vitriol and slander from the American press, shooting them into the limelight and rallying the whole of the African basketball world behind the Nigerian Tigers. This is however not the first time the Nigerian team is making history.
The team goes as far back as the late 1950s. In 1964, they joined the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and in 2006, they qualified for the FIBA world championship where they finished 14th. In 2012, they qualified for and participated in the Summer Olympics where they came out bottom of their group. The same thing happened in the 2016 Summer Olympics, where they lost 5 games and only won 1.
As one of the top African teams, Nigeria qualified for their third consecutive Olympics, the 2020 Summer Olympics. The team was called for training in the United States in June 2021. In an exhibition game, D’Tigers defeated the United States 90–87 in Las Vegas on 10 July, the first win for an African team against the United States. On 12 July, exactly two days after that, the team backed up their weekend achievement by beating world 4th ranked team Argentina with 94-71. That was also a first for an African nation. However, in their third match on 14 July, the Australian national team beat Nigeria 108-69, a loss fans are attributing to fatigue.
The team is led by Miami Heat assistant coach Mike Brown and Alexander Nwora. Nigeria is the only African nation to ever qualify for the Summer Olympics through the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This was accomplished at the 2012 Event when Nigeria beat the world elite teams of Lithuania and Greece. The team is ranked 22nd in the world by FIBA.