Reigning AfroBasket champions, Nigeria last night confirmed her ticket for the basketball event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games despite her shock lose to host Serbia 70-64 (21-22, 22-12, 16-12, 11-18) in the second game of the FIBA Women Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The qualification of the Nigeria women’s team completes the pack as the men’s team had last year punched its ticket at the FIBA World Cup held in China under the guidance of Coach Alex Nwora.
Today, D’Tigress faces Team USA with nothing to lose having already secured a ticket to the Olympics.
However, today’s game will afford the Nigerian girls a good opportunity of reassessing their 2018 FIBA World Cup performance where they got eliminated in the quarter final stage.
Recall the Nigerian national team in 2018 emerged as the unlikely but overwhelmingly welcomed surprise of the World Cup. The team, also referred to as D’Tigress, made history when it defeated Turkey 74-68, earning its first win in tournament history.
To prove it wasn’t simply the one-off feel-good story of the tournament, however, Nigeria came out against Argentina and won again. On Wednesday, the team continued its historic run in a nail-biting 57-56 win over Greece to advance to the quarterfinals.
To understand how impressive Nigeria’s World Cup run has been requires a step backward and a deeper look at the context of its Cup appearance. Nigeria is making its first tournament appearance since 2006 in Brazil, where it finished dead last.
MEET THE GALDIATORS
#4 Elizabeth BALOGUN (Guard 6’1”) Uni of Louisville
#7 Sarah OGOKE (Shooting Guard 5’9”) Ferroviario Maputo
#9 Aisha MOHAMMED (Forward 6’4”) KB Bashkimi
#10 Promise AMUKAMARA (Point Guard 5’9”) Charnay Basket Bourgogne SUD
#11 Adaora ELONU (Forward 6’1”) Uni Girona
#12 Elo EDEFERIOKA (Center 6’3”) CB Vigo
#13 Evelyn AKHATOR (Center 6’3”) Carolo Basket
#21 Atonye NYINGIFA (Power Forward 6’0”) Durán Maquinaria Ensino
#23 Ezinne KALU (Point Guard) 5’8” Landerneau Bretagne Basket
#24 Sarah IMOVBIOH (Center 6’1”) Basket Namur Capitale
#25 Victoria MACAULAY (Center 6’4”) Galatasaray
#52 Ify IBEKWE (Small Forward 6’2”) Virtus Eirene