*Akhator lived up to the billing again
*Our focus is to beat Senegal in last group game
Nigeria’s D’Tigress on Tuesday seriously thrashed their West African neighbours, Guinea by a massive margin of 106-33 in the ongoing 2017 Mali Afrobasket Women’s Basketball Championship.
The victory means Nigeria has won all its games and is looking forward to land in the final of the competition.
D’Tigress took the first and second quarters of the game with a 26-8 and 22-4 intimidating the Guinean team with their counter attacking ball play. They wasted no time in the second half recording a 34-8 in the third quarter and at this period D’Tigress were just too much for their opponents to contend with.
D’Tigress settled the score line at 106-33 recording the biggest win in the competition since it dunked off on 18th August. The victory stretches Nigeria’s head-to-head with Guinea to five victories out of five in the past meets.
The team’s star player in the competition, Evelyn Akhator led the floor with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Sarah Ogoke had 13 points and two rebounds.
First Bank of Lagos star player Nkeshi Akashili was also impressive with 12 points, one rebound and two assists. D’Tigress, who are already through to the quarter-finals of the championship would play defending champions Senegal on Wednesday to determine the group B leader.
Nigeria’s other previous encounters in the competition so far are, 80-69 over Mozambique in their opening game, 84-47 against Congo Democratic and 106-72 against Egypt.
Our focus is now Senegal: D’Tigress have switched their focus on their last group game against FIBA Afrobasket defending champion- Senegal following their fourth win against Guinea on Tuesday.
The last group game comes up on Wednesday at the Palais Des Sports Salamatou, Maiga, Bamako.
After blowing out Guinea on Tuesday with a scoreline of 106 to 33points, the players are battle ready against Senegal in what will be a grudge match against the side that has won the competition 11 times.
Three of the players that spoke ahead of the match which will decide who tops group B all agreed that defeating Senegal who are on the bigger size won’t be a stroll in the park.
According to Akashili Nkechi who currently plays for Elephant Girls basketball club of Lagos, every team that qualified for the competition in Mali is a threat with every likely chance of winning the tournament.
She revealed that the Sam Vincent led team has been taking and winning each game at a time which has really helped in the four games played so far.
“We will crush them one at a time. God has helping us to conquer them and he will keep giving us the strength because everybody here is a professional and they are here to play.
For Nyingifa Atonye Jennifer who is currently playing for Elitzur Holon of Isreal, the team must play one of their best games if they are to stand the chance of outscoring the Senegalese who are desperate to defend their title.
“We are going to have to come in really focused, limit our turnovers, mistakes and really be on the same page offensively and defensively”.
She acknowledged that playing against the taller players means D’Tigress “must really have to box them out and crash the board.”
With a rare start against the Guineans on Tuesday, Nyingifa said she will continue to play her role whether as a first 5 starter or a player who will come in from the bench.
“I believe in whatever the coach is trying to do for the team. For the next two games, we are trying to go bigger to see how we can match up against other teams because their size is a little bit bigger than what we have in our team. So, different adjustments are going to be made for each game and I can’t tell you, if it’s constant depending on game by game situation.”
Finally, Nwaigwe Ugo who is representing for the first time at the international stage predicted that the game against Senegal is definitely going to be a great game.
“It’s going to be hard, we are going to have to fight and it’s going to be a lot of back and forth but we are going to come out on top. We are very talented and skilled and I think we are going to beat Senegal,” Nwaigwe concluded.
“We are not as big as Senegal, but we can beat them in different ways.
With our speed, our mind, running plays through to beat them at their weaknesses and focus more on our strength.
We don’t need to worry about them, we need to worry about us and we will be good”.