Coach Mike Brown’s side overcame their West Africa counterparts 81 points to 73.
D’Tigers took the first quarter 28-12 but the Malians bounced back to claim the second quarter 31-16.
In the third quarter they were tops 27-10 before the Malians took the fourth quarter by 20-10 but D’Tigers had done enough to emerge winners.
Up next for the Nigerian team in Group C is a clash against Kenya which comes up on Friday, 27 August.
The 30th edition of the AfroBasket, which started on Tuesday August 24 and will end on September 5, is taking place in Rwanda.
D’Tigers have won the AfroBasket only once and that was in 2015.
By James Agberebi
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