NIGERIA’S senior women’s national basketball team, D’Tigress, on Wednesday, February 8, began their qualification quest to the Olympic Games in Paris in the summer with a 72-65 win against Senegal.
The match day 1 of the FIBA Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, saw a nail-biting contest between the two countries.
Nigeria displayed dominance in the first quarter as the Rena Wakama tutored side won by a two-point margin of 20-18 but fell behind in the second quarter with a nine-point margin 17-28 to go on break 46-37.
Resumption from the break saw Nigeria unleash their arsenal to manage a margin of 12-11 at the end of the third but were still trailing their opponents by eleven margin of 57-48.
In the final quarter, Nigeria remained resolute and displayed confidence as they won with a whooping fifteen margin, 23-8, to close the gap, ending with 72-65 in the final result.
Amy Okonkwo, who elicited cheers from her admirers, had a double-double, 21 points and ten rebounds at the end of the match. She capped it all with three assists and one blocked shot.
Nigeria will take on world champions USA on Friday, February 9, on match day two, while Senegal will meet host Belgium.
A win against the USA gives Nigeria the Olympic ticket automatically.
However, should the country lose against the US, it still has a last match against Belgium, which it must win to get the ticket.
Reacting to Nigeria’s victory, Nigeria’s basketball journalist, Queen Joseph-Moseph, on her ‘X’ handle @queenjohn4, wrote that early preparation would reduce the pressure on Nigeria during the match.
“The second quarter almost caused us this game, but the @DtigressNG came back in full force in the second half and were unstoppable in the fourth, especially on defence. It just showed we needed more time together.
“We last played together in August last year at the Afrobasket. Better preparation would have reduced the tension on us. Paris @DtigressNG is coming ….” she wrote.