Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
D’Tigress of Nigeria have continued to bask in the euphoria of their 2017 Women Afrobasket victory with a solemn declaration that their triumph has finally ended the domination of Senegal over them as the standard benchmark of basketball for women in Africa.
The Nigerian ladies remarkably won all eight matches at the campaign in Bamako, Mali and capped it all with a double over continental powerhouse, Senegal.
They defeated the Lionesses 48-44 in Group B match and capped it with another win in the final to secure their third continental title since 2003 and 2005.
Nkechi Akashili and Sarah Ogoke summed up the upbeat mood when the team was hosted in Abuja upon arrival from Mali.
“For sure, we have ended Senegal domination over us in continental basketball. They have dominated us for ages and after we surged past Mali in the semi-final, we resolved to beat Senegal to prove a point, and we did that we actualized in the final. The way forward is for the board to put in camp in time for the World Championship in Spain. We need to train more together so that we can forge a better understand of ourselves. The better when we stay together,” said Akashili of First Bank basketball team
Her position was echoed by teammate, Ogoke, who plays for Real Club, Celta Vigo of Spain.
The US-born guard, described the Afrobasket win as a new dawn for female basketball in Nigeria, stressing that they now want to rule the continent for many years to come.
“What I believe is that when your preparation is good, success will follow. it was not easy but we were able to accomplish it. Senegal used to be our bogey team, our biggest rival. But we have broken their jinx. It is the new era for Nigeria. We had a lot of new players and better players with experience. It’s just the beginning for us,” Ogoke said.
She attributed their impressive outing to the superb coaching and tactics of the coaches led by Sam Vincent, in addition to a crop of players that refused to lose.
“The next target is the World Championship. But we just have to put our house in order and improve this team and achieve our goal of a top four finish in Spain. We have to work towards that,’’ she said.