By Olayinka Elebute
D’Tigress ended their FIBA Olympics Qualifiers Tournament on a high despite a narrow 71-76 points loss to world champions- USA at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall, Belgrade, Serbia.
Inspired by Otis Hughley, the team came out determined to prove a point and show the world that they could compete with anybody in the world as they put up a performance that many will talk about for a very long time to come.
D’Tigress dominated the first half, 21-20, 19-6 as they went into half time 40-26points which many across the world will find hard to believe for a long time to come.
USA came out fighting in the third quarter to narrowly pick the game 24-17 as the D’Tigress held on to 7 point lead heading to the last quarter where USA completed their comeback.
Ezinne Kalu who was voted as one of the group’s top five players alongside Ana Debovic (Serbia), Leia Dongue (Mozambique), A’ja Wilson (USA) and Nneka Ogwumike (USA) once again led the team with 17pts, 8 assists and 4 rebounds.
Victoria Macaulay had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist while Evelyn Akhator after failing to score against Serbia on match day 2 dropped 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Despite the height disadvantage of the D’Tigress, the team out-rebounded USA after collectively picking 43 rebounds as against 36 rebounds by USA. Nigeria also stole the ball 13 times as against 5 by their opponent.
Players and coaches will depart Belgrade for their various clubs after the tournament.