The defending champions, Senegal, bowed to Nigeria’s pressure by 54-58 points in the Women Afrobasket championship, in their last Group B match on Wednesday night in Bamako, Mali.
Both teams and enthusiasts took the match as crucial due to the superlative performances of Nigeria’s D’Tigress since the beginning of the tournament and Senegal’s intimidating record in the last 10 years.
Even as Senegal won the last quarter of the match by picking 13 points ahead of Nigeria’s 10 points, it was a Pyrrhic victory for Nigerian girls as they finally showed class in the encounter.
Although bravery was never lacking in the big cat family, the D’Tigress wasted no time in taking the duel to their giant opponents right from the first quarter.
The first quarter was narrowly lost by the Francophone country as it ended 13 points to 14 points.
Nigeria, however, powered past in the second quarter with additional 20 points leaving the defending champions with 13 points.
As the game approached its climax in the third quarter, the Senegalese managed to garner 15 points against Nigeria’s 14.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Evelyn Akhator, the forward player with Dallas Wings of Women National Basketball Association in the U.S., put up a devastating effort to maintain her class as the highest scorer of the match, with 15 points.
Akhator also got 13 rebounds and five assists in the fiercely contested battle while Aya Traore got 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists for Senegal.
Other members of D’Tigress also contributed in raising the campaign against Senegal in the final group match.
The Nigerians attributed their impressive run in Mali to improved welfare package provided by the new board of Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF.
The players made this known in an electronic mail, made available to NAN.
They commended the Musa Kida-led board of NBBF for motivating the team during their build-up in Lagos and the prompt payment of camp allowances few days after arriving in Bamako.
According to them, nothing works better in motivating players for any major competition than prompt payment of allowances and bonuses in spite of their willingness to serve their fatherland.
The quarter final match will be played on Friday in the race for 2017 Women Afrobasket Championship.