Can Nigeria upset FIBA AfroBasket 2017 hosts Tunisia in the Final?
TUNIS (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - A win over FIBA AfroBasket 2017 hosts Tunisia on Saturday at Salle Omnisports de Rades, and Nigeria would win their second straight continental championship.
Nevertheless, Nigeria's title aspirations will require a lot more than being the tournament highest scorer team. Alex Nwora's team face a number of adversities, including a partisan crowd that is expected to sellout the 12,000 capacity Gymnasium, but more importantly, they will try to stop head coach Mario Palma from winning his fifth straight African title.Two years ago - at the same venue - Nigeria lost to Tunisia in the Group Phase, but they responded with four straight victories to win the trophy for the first time-ever while Tunisia finished in Third-Place.
Meanwhile, if Ike Diogu, Ikechukwu Nwamu and Bryant Mbamalu continue to make three-pointers the way they have done until the Semi-Final, Tunisia will need to use a tenacious defensive plan to avoid being beaten at home.
The 34-year-old power forward Diogu - a three-time FIBA AfroBasket participant - has become an all-round for Nigeria averaging team-highs 22 points and eight rebounds per game.
"Tunisia are a tough team, they are undefeated. We are going to be ready to play them," he said.
TALENTS TO WATCH: Diogu has been heart and soul of this Nigerian team, after all, he is the only 'survivor' from the 2015 Nigeria winning team.
In the absence of Salah Mejri and Michael Roll, Makram Ben Romdhane and Omar Abada have taken the leadership role for the Tunisians.
HISTORY: Nigeria hold a 2-1 head-to-head edge over Tunisia dating back to 2005.
CHALLENGE: Tunisia are organizing the tournament for the third time - after 1987 and 2015 - but they have never reached the Final before.
IMPLICATIONS: As the two highest ranked teams on the continent, the winner of this game could cement their continental heavyweights status.