By Joe Apu
Nigeria’s women national team, D’ Tigress is the first team to qualify for the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017 quarterfinals following her win over Egypt on Sunday at the Palais des Sports Salamatou Maiga in the Malian capital of Bamako.
WNBA star, Evelyn Akhator posted her first double double at the tournament to lead the Nigerian charge with 24 points and 13 rebounds as Sam Vincent’s side marched to their third straight win.
“We have a young team that can run the floor on both defense and offense so doing that is a plus for us. I just came out to play and try to get better every other day. I think me getting used to the plays and the court and getting the trust for my teammates really helped me.”
Jennifer Atonye Nyingifa posted another double double with 15 rebounds and 12 points, while Ezinne Kalu and Sarah Ogoke added 18 and 13 points in that order.
This brought Nigeria’s win ratio to 3-0 at the biennial continental competition that has attracted 12 teams, the best in Africa.
Nigeria opened her account with an 80-69 win over Mozambique on Friday before seeing off Democratic Republic of Congo 84-47 the following day.
At the heart of this form is newly appointed head coach, Sam Vincent who came into this tournament with experience from his days with the women’s national team at the Greece 2004 Olympics. Along with Vincent as part of the team management staff is 2005 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Most Valuable Player Mfon Udoka and Mctabene Amacheree who had been guiding the youthful side on a quest for greatness.
“We have a young team that can run the floor on both defense and offense so doing that is a plus for us. I just came out to play and try to get better every other day. I think me getting used to the plays and the court and getting the trust from my teammates really helped me,” Akhator told FIBA.basketball.
Nigeria is on top of Group B with six points but still have to play against Guinea and reigning champions Senegal.