Nigeria’s D’Tigress produced one of the best comebacks one can witness in a Basketball game, beating the defending champions Senegal to win the 2017 Afrobasket Championships in a remarkable run that saw them finish the competition unbeaten.
Trailing in the first quarter by as much as 14 points, they were not cowed into throwing in the towel, but steadily fought their way back to win the match by 65-46 points.
This is the third Afrobasket crown that the Nigerian ladies will be winning, and also it is the second time in this tournament that they will be beating Senegal whom many people tipped as the favourites to retain their title.
In fact the head to head match up between the two sides in the lead up to the game pitched Senegal with the advantage at 6-4 against Nigeria in 10 meetings.
In the early stages of the game it looked like Senegal were on course to retain their title going by their 18-4 lead over Nigeria in the first five minutes of the first quarter, however D’Tigress gradually clawed their way back and reduced it to a 6-point game going into the 2nd quarter.
It was further reduced to 3 points, but the Senegalese missed a couple of shots that allowed the Nigerians lead by 33-27 points at the end of the 2nd quarter.
At that point, they didn’t look back as they punctured every hope of any comeback when Sarah Ogoke sunk in a 3-pointer that opened up a 14-point lead in the 3rd quarter.
By then the Senegalese were labouring to find their early swagger which saw them lead at some point, as one coulde sense that there was a feeling of defeat creeping in the minds of their players as they repeatedly called for timeout, and it looked like “dejavu” all over having lost by 54-58 points to Nigeria in the group stages.
Senegal’s Astou Traore who would go on to retain her MVP award, tried all she could leading with a game high 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. While Nigeria’s Osaretin Akhator led for her team with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
This is Nigeria’s third Afrobasket crown who emulated their male counterparts who won their category last year. What is most thrilling about their triumph is that they won the title without losing a game.
Surely the Nigerian ladies will improve further when they travel to Spain next year for the World Cup as African champions.