D’Tigress came back from a 17-point first-quarter deficit to defeat FIBA-ranked No.5 women’s basketball team, France 67-65 on Friday at the Ranko Žeravica Sports Hall in Belgrade.
The win takes the team close to qualification for the World Cup scheduled for Australia in September.
This was after a 14-point loss to China on Thursday.
The team coach, Otis Hughley, said the “goal was to play better today [Friday] than they did yesterday [Thursday].”
The American coach added, “If you come too good too soon, you are not going to have anything. And it really matters in two days. If this was all we needed to do, they would have given us hats and some placards to say World Cup, but we don’t have that yet because we have to win that next game.”
China became the first country to receive the special caps dedicated to the teams qualified for the World Cup when they defeated Mali 84-64.
China receiving their caps.
Oderah Chidom, who scored 13 points and pulled off six rebounds plus five assists, said at the post-match interview, “I am really proud of this team.
“We had some adversity in the first half, but the beautiful part about it was we just stayed together. There were some miscommunication; you know, we weren’t really together, but anytime we would huddle, and no one would get frustrated and we would just like figure it out right there in the moment.
“The team supported one another like throughout the ups; throughout the downs and I am really proud of this team despite all the adversities we’ve faced to even come to this tournament, and it is really inspiring to see what we can do with this squad,” Chidom added.
“With a depleted squad and the transition, we had to make it without our point guard [Kalu] and leader. Promise [Amukamara] had to take all that on her back and she is a two,” revealed Hughley. “To have that kind of win is unbelievable,” Hughley added.
Amukamara scored an amazing buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter to cut the deficit to four points.
Watch that buzzer beater here:
🚨 @iPromisee called bank 🚨
— FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWWC) February 11, 2022
Hughley also spoke glowingly of the lead scorer, Victoria Macaulay, who scored 19 points, which included the game-winning three-pointer with less than a minute on the clock. “She laid it on the line. We knew it was going to be tough, but yesterday [the loss to China] was necessary for her to get through today. The signature on the door of success is failure. She had to go through the failure of yesterday to get the success today.”
Macaulay, 31, played almost 21 minutes against China on Thursday but scored just two points even though she added four rebounds and three assists in the 14-point loss. On Friday, the 6’ 4 Turkey-based player put up the numbers that led her team to a shock victory. She made seven of 11 field goals-with two three-point plays included. She also added four rebounds and four assists to her MVP display.
Watch Macaulay in action:
“Because without that day, she wouldn’t have got the kinks out; she wouldn’t have got her bearing; she wouldn’t be able to recalibrate-she wouldn’t be able to do any of that. So, that is necessary and men, she came out on the other side. Most people run from the success because they don’t want to go through the fire,” Hughley said, revealing how Macaulay put up the monster performance against France.
This D’Tigress squad is missing the experience of Ezinne Kalu and Sarah Ogoke, but the young team served notice that they will not be denied a World Cup ticket.
Nigeria needs a win against Mali on Sunday to qualify with no permutations, but they will also go through if they lose by six or fewer points against Mali and if France beats China. Mali will secure their passage with a win over Nigeria by seven or more points, even though they lost their two earlier matches to France and China. They will also go through if they win by less than seven points, but if France beats China.
Nigeria plays Mali at the Ranko Zeravica Sports Hall on Sunday at 12 noon.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999