By Joe Apu
The last and 5th Window of the FIBA World Cup 2023 Africa Qualifiers resumes later this month and already Nigeria’s opponents are gearing up for action.
Cote d’Ivoire, the only African team that has already qualified for the 2023 World Cup that will take place in Philippines, Indonesia and Japan on the 25th August recently announced a 17-man preliminary squad led by their dynamic captain Souleyman Diabate, Fofana Vafessa as well as Cedric Bah to mention a few.
Cote d’Ivoire leads Group E with 14pts followed by Angola, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Guinea and Uganda.
Cape Verde in an effort to secure a ticket has called 37-year-old Jeff Xavier from retirement. He played the first three games of the African Qualifiers in November 2021, but called it a career a few months later.
But when coach Emanuel Trovoada reached out to Xavier for another shot, the shooting guard who had last played for Unicaja Banco Oviedo from Spain’s LEB Gold last May, thought it was an opportunity to give his country a chance on a special mission.
Joining Xavier in Cape Verde’s roster is seven-footer center Walter Edy Tavares, who has never hidden his intentions of helping his native Cape Verde make it to the World Cup.
“I should have gone to the last window we had in august, but I was convinced that I wasn’t the player I once was and couldn’t help the team the way I wanted to, but I think I was wrong and now I am here to make us a better team and do my best possible to get us into the World Cup,” Xavier explained.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation is yet to make public its roster for the qualifiers. D’Tigers will attempt to do the impossible when they face Group leaders Cote d’ Ivoire on the opening day, followed by the game against Guinea and then against Angola.