Following their elimination from the Bullet Energy Basketball Tournament on Saturday, Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu says it was a good test for his team.
Rivers Hoopers lost their opening game on Tuesday, to Lagos Legends. They returned the following day to beat Hot Coal of Abuja and Mibaha Chanans a day after.
A 45-35 defeat to Correctional Services who were tied on points with Hoopers in Group A, meant that the Port Harcourt club were eliminated from the tournament.
Odaudu sees it as a “blessing in disguise,” heading to the Final 8 which tips off on Monday.
“The tournament was a good one for us, two wins and two losses. Our aim was to come here and test ourselves and see what we could do in preparation for the final 8.
“Though the boys had been playing individually in some other competitions like the festival, as a team we were rusty but these games have taken all the rust away, “ he said.
Odaudu added: “We saw the places we were deficient, mistakes made and we have been talking about it and we will find time to work on the things we didn’t do well before final 8 starts on Monday.”
The Kings Men last played in a competitive game on February 5 when they won the Crown Elite Championship in Lagos.
Odaudu believes it was important for them to build team cohesion as they head into a crucial week.
“Practice doesn’t show all what you are capable of so if we had not come for this tournament we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to blend the new and old players and build a better chemistry. There is a team cohesion that wasn’t there before this tournament but it is better now.
World Cup 2022: Man Killed In Iran Celebrating Team’s Loss
A man is reported to have been killed by security forces in northern Iran, as anti-government protesters publicly celebrated the national football team’s elimination from the World Cup.
Activists said Mehran Samak was shot in the head after he honked his car’s horn in Bandar Anzali on Tuesday night.
Videos from other cities showed crowds cheering and dancing in the streets.
Many Iranians refused to support their football team in Qatar, seeing it as a representation of the Islamic Republic.
State-affiliated media blamed hostile forces both inside and outside Iran for putting unfair pressure on the players following their 1-0 loss to the USA in the final group game.
The players did not sing the national anthem before their first game, a 6-2 defeat by England, in an apparent expression of solidarity with the protesters.
But they did sing at the Wales game, which they won 2-0, and at the politically-charged showdown against the USA.
Some protesters saw that as a betrayal of their cause even though there were reports that the team came under intense pressure from Iranian authorities.
The unrest started 10 weeks ago following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the strict rules requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab.
Authorities have responded to what they have portrayed as foreign-backed riots with a violent crackdown in which the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed, including 60 children. More than 18,000 others are reported to have been arrested.
Belgium Out Of W/Cup
Belgium have been knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage as Croatia progressed at their expense with a goalless draw in Qatar.
Roberto Martinez’s side, who finished third in Russia four years ago and are ranked second in the world, have had a disappointing tournament with just one win and one goal in their three matches
They produced another lacklustre display against Croatia despite knowing victory was necessary to progress to the last 16.
Substitute Romelu Lukaku had numerous chances in the second half but his failure to convert any sealed his country’s fate.
Lukaku, searching for sharpness following injury, hit the post from in front of goal, poked an effort wide when well-placed and reacted too slowly when the ball hit him in the six-yard box in stoppage time.
Croatia, finalists in 2018, got the point they needed to progress from Group F as runners-up, with Morocco taking top spot thanks to a 2-1 win against Canada.
Zlatko Dalic’s side will face the winners of Group E , which is currently Spain, in the last 16.
Belgium players fell to the turf at full-time as their supporters behind the goal politely applauded them off the pitch.
Lukaku, who replaced Dries Mertens at half-time, came into the game with intent and immediately brought energy and purpose to his side.
But his missed opportunities in the second half proved costly, with each one bringing an audible collective groan from the stands and the on-loan Inter Milan striker punched the dugout in frustration after the final whistle.
Croatia were not especially convincing, their most threatening moment was a first-half penalty award being ruled out by VAR because of an offside infringement in the build-up – but did enough to secure progression.
They did however look a level below what they showed to reach the final in Russia four years ago and their celebrations were fairly subdued after scraping through.
Germany Crash Out Of World Cup Despite 4-2 Defeat Of Costa Rica
Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage for the second time in succession despite a 4-2 win against Costa Rica on Thursday.
The four-time World Cup winners came into the match needing a win but were also relying on the result of Japan’s game with Spain to progress.
But the Germans were eliminated due to goal difference as Japan followed up their defeat of Germany with another shock result by beating Spain 2-1.
Germany took an early lead but briefly fell behind in the second half as coach Hansi Flick made a flurry of changes, reacting to the live score of the Japan v Spain fixture.
The Germans started positively, with Flick’s all-Bayern Munich front line turning the screws early, battering the Costa Rica defence before Serge Gnabry got his head to a curling cross from Leipzig defender David Raum after 10 minutes to open the scoring.
Midfielder Leon Goretzka almost doubled Germany’s lead just five minutes later but his header was directly at Keylor Navas.
Complacency began to creep into Germany’s game. Keysher Fuller, Costa Rica’s goal-scoring hero in a 1-0 win against Japan, forced Manuel Neuer into a fingertip save after some half-hearted defending from Raum and Antonio Ruediger.
Flick moved Kimmich back to his familiar defensive midfield position at half-time, bringing on Lukas Klostermann at the expense of Goretzka, who like Kimmich started the match on a yellow.
Just seven minutes into the second half, word crept around the vast Lusail Stadium that Japan had scored two quick goals to take the lead against Spain, a result which would force Germany out of the tournament.
Flick reacted immediately, bringing on Niclas Fuellkrug and taking off another midfielder in Ilkay Gundogan.
Germany appeared disjointed as Costa Rica went on the counter on the 58-minute mark, the ball rebounding off Neuer and into the path of Yeltsin Tejeda, who slammed it home.
Flick continued to chase the game, making more changes but it was Costa Rica who scored next when Juan Pablo Vargas tapped a free kick past Neuer to put his side past Spain and into the Round of 16. The goal was later recorded as an own goal.
Germany hit back minutes later through Chelsea forward Kai Havertz to draw level.
Havertz scored again in the 86th minute and Fuellkrug added another in the 89th minute to bring the score to 4-2, but the side’s focus remained nervously fixed on the group’s parallel fixture.
The night ended with Germany losing out to second-placed Spain on goal difference.
It means Germany, who had not missed out on the knockout stages of a World Cup for 80 years until the 2018 tournament in Russia, have been bundled out in the group stage for the second World Cup in a row.
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