Nigeria’s fairytale continued as D’Tigress became the first African country to qualify for the quarterfinals of any FIBA women’s World Cup after defeating Greece by 57 points to 56 in a game that went down to the last 3 seconds.
Despite D’Tigress 15 to 7 points lead early in the game, the Greeks fought their way back into the reckoning to tie the contest at 15 points heading into the 2nd quarter.
Sarah Imovbioh replaced injured Aisha Mohammed who until her injury had been sensational for Nigeria averaging 10 points per game.
With about 30 seconds to the end of the game and Greece leading by a point, Elo Edema caught a rebound before being fouled. She converted the resulting 2 free throws to give the D’Tigress 57points to 56 lead.
Kalu Ezinne and Evelyn Akhator led the D’Tigress scorers chart with 14 points while Promise Amukarama weighed in with 13points.
Akhator once again emerged as the top performer for the team with another double-double adding 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists.
Reacting after the match, team captain, Adaora Elonu said the victory was well deserved against a team that was also hungry for a win.
“The victory was very difficult but we are happy that at the end, we won. Winning the game for Africa and Nigerians in the presence of the Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung who today turned 54 made it extra special.”
The game which was only tied in the first quarter saw the D’Tigress end the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters (31-26, 48-37, 57-56) as winners.
NBBF Vice President, Babs Ogunade lauded the never say die spirit of the girls.
He said the qualification for the quarterfinals of the World Cup marks a new dawn in the history of basketball in Nigeria.
“Now, the whole world will start taking us seriously as we have registered our name on the global basketball map.”
The federation is proud of the girls while Nigerians around the world are walking tall because of this victory against Greece.”
Ogunade said the team will savor the victory and qualification for a while before hitting the gym on Thursday to prepare for the quarterfinal clash against World number 1, the United States of America on Friday.”