ABUJA (AfroBasket 2015) - In the lead-up to AfroBasket 2015, we take a closer look at all 16 participating teams competing in the championship running from 19-30 August.
FIBA Ranking Men: No. 24
Last participation in the AfroBasket: 2013 (5 wins, 2 defeats; 7th place)
Best result in the history of the AfroBasket: Three second-places (1997, 1999 and 2003)
Qualified for AfroBasket 2015 - Double victory against Burkina Faso in FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifier.
Over the course of the past 20 years, Nigeria accomplished three second-places (1997, 1999 and 2003) as well as three third-places (1995, 2005 and 2011), making this year's AfroBasket an opportunity to write a new chapter in their basketball history.
Nigeria saw off Burkina Faso in two FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifier games early this year to secure qualification for Africa's biggest basketball tournament and have been drawn in Group A along with hosts Tunisia, debutants Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAF).
Three years ago, they stunned the basketball world by beating the Dominican Republic as well as European powerhouse Lithuania and Greece in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. It was Nigeria's biggest basketball achievement so far.
That was a historic moment not only for the Nigerians, who made their Olympic debut, but also for African basketball as no other national team from the continent had ever qualified for the Olympics through an OQT.
However, a modest London Olympic campaign followed by a disappointing seventh place at AfroBasket 2013 saw the Western African country plummet six places in the FIBA Ranking to 24th.
Key Player: Since Ike Diogu made his national team debut at the 2012 OQT in Caracas, Venezuela, the 31-year-old forward has become Nigeria's most prominent player.
Across three consecutive major tournaments, Diogu has averaged team-highs 17.8 points and 10 rebounds.
Sorely Missed: Shooting guard Ade Dagunduro played a key role for Nigeria at the 2012 OQT, averaging 10.2 points and 3.0 assists per game.
But he saw his London Olympic odyssey cut short after suffering a knee injury in Nigeria’s game 2 against Lithuania, and he never represented the D’Tigers again.
Rising Star: Talib Zanna could be a valuable piece in the painted area. The 24-year-old power forward - who signed a preseason agreement with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder but was let go before the 2014-15 season - has played for the NBA Development League side Oklahoma City Blue this past season and was selected to the NBA D-League All-Rookie Team.
Outlook: Clearly a strong contender, Nigeria have several pieces to succeed at AfroBasket 2015, starting with the core of the team that qualified for the London Olympics.
This could be the fourth consecutive international tournament in which Diogu, Al-Farouq Aminu, Alade Aminu and Olumide Oyedeji play together. The country's Basketball Federation has decided to go with an American coach again (after Sam Vincent and George Lucas), handing Will Voigt the helm of the team.
One of Nigeria's strongest points lies in their American-basketball influence as a significant number of their players were born or played and learned college basketball in the other side of the Atlantic.
In just six words: In the quest for AfroBasket’s glory.