. Team end qualifier on a high
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday felicitated with the female Basket Ball team, D’Tigress, on its qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, urging them to remain focused, determined and energised for a good outing at the tournament.
The president, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, commended the sportsmanship and resilience of the team all through the qualifying stages, and training sessions, saluting their courage in always putting out their best as they represent the country.
Adesina said being the current African Champions, Buhari believes that the team already has the talents that can make global impact in the forthcoming event, assuring that the federal government would ensure proper preparation and mobilisation for all their outings.
He also said the president commended the team’s officials and the National Basket Ball Federation (NBA) for the discipline and motivation of the D’Tigress.
Meanwhile, D’Tigress ended their FIBA Olympics Qualifiers Tournament on a high despite a narrow 71-76 points loss to world champions- USA at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall Sunday nightin Belgrade, Serbia.
Inspired by Otis Hughley, the team came out determined to prove a point and show Basketball aficionados that the Nigerian ladies could compete with anybody in the world as they put up a performance that many will talk about for a very long time to come.
D’Tigress dominated the first half, 21-20, 19-6 as they went into half time 40-26points which many across the world will find hard to believe for a long time to come.
USA came out fighting in the third quarter to narrowly pick the game 24-17 as the D’Tigress held on to 7 point lead heading to the last quarter where USA completed their comeback.
Ezinne Kalu who was voted as one of the group’s top five players alongside Ana Debovic (Serbia), Leia Dongue (Mozambique), A’ja Wilson (USA) and Nneka Ogwumike (USA) once again led the team with 17pts, 8 assists and 4 rebounds.
Victoria Macaulay had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist while Evelyn Akhator after failing to score against Serbia on match day 2 dropped 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Despite the height disadvantage of the D’Tigress, the team out-rebounded USA after collectively picking 43 rebounds as against 36 rebounds by USA. Nigeria also stole the ball 13 times as against 5 by their opponent.
Players and coaches on Monday depart Belgrade for their various clubs in Europe and USA.