- Diogu says the men’s team fired up to make impact at the World Cup
Defending champions D’Tigress of Nigeria continued their good run at the ongoing FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Tournament in Dakar, Senegal yesterday morning, defeating Democratic Republic of Congo 79-46 to book a semi final spot.
The Nigerian ladies consolidated on their two Group B victories over Tunisia and Cameroon with the defeat of the Congolese yesterday.
DR Congo, a very athletic and physical team, put the agility of the 19th placed team to the test but D’Tigress proved capable of soaking all they had in their armory.
D’Tigress started the first quarter on a slow note with DR Congo getting the first basket of the quarter, commanding the tempo of the game.
Nigeria’s senior women’s team Coach Otis Hughley however was unfazed as he conjured up tricks that got D’Tigress together, stepped up the game and took commanding lead of the first two quarters.
The first quarter was however the biggest scoring run of 14 points (22) – (06), the first and second quarter ended (22) – (09) and (38) – (23), respectively.
Half way through the quarter final game, D’Tigress came out smoking with top performance from Ezinne Kalu leading the pack. She commanded the floor, ending up with 18% efficiency, 17points, 5 Steals and 2 Assists.
Her teammates Victoria Macaulay and Adaora Elonu also puts up 14 points and 11 points respectively to ensure Nigeria was cruising to the last two stage of the tournament.
Thirty-three points difference between Nigeria and DR Congo tell the story of the determination of D’Tigress to secure a semi final.
With third and fourth quarter ending (61) – (32) and (79) – (46) respectively, no one needed to be told that Nigeria has a mission in Dakar.
D’Tigress whipped Tunisia 75-26 in the group’s opening match and also in the second match, the 2017 AfroBasket defending champions walloped Cameroon 106-39 to book the quarter final place in the continental basketball competition against DR Congo.
D’Tigress are to face either Mali or Ivory Coast in one of the semi finals.
Meanwhile, Captain of Nigeria’s senior men’s team, Ike Diogu, has revealed that the current players in the team are pumped up to give a good account of themselves at the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup in China.
With all 15 players in camp set to make their World Cup debut if selected as part of the final 12-man rooster, Diogu said the chance to be in China means everything to the members of the squad.
“It means a lot because none of us has played in the World Cup before. The one time we had a chance of qualifying was in 2013 and we lost in the quarter finals of the men’s Afrobasket. This is the first time for us all and we want to make sure we do something special.”
He thumbed up the high quality of training programme for the team which he said has really improved the team’s overall performance as evident in the four friendlies played so far.
“We have got a lot of good young players and we are all excited to represent Nigeria in the right way. We are preparing very well and we expect to have a successful outing at the World Cup.”
Diogu said that the series of friendlies and the training camps in New York, Canada and Lagos have given the team ample time to blend and get familiar with each other
“We just have to make sure we play as a team. Individually we know how good we are. We have a good collection of NBA talents and high level Europe-based talents. We just have to play collectively as a group and I guess we should be fine against everybody else.”
Nigeria made her debut at the 1998 World Cup in Athens, Greece while the last appearance was in 2006 where the team got eliminated in the Round of 16.