Celebrations as D’Tigress conquer Africa in Mali
Nigeria’s D’Tigress on Sunday emerged the new champions of Africa, after they defeated Senegal 65-48 in the final of the 2017 Women’s Afrobasket championship in Bamako, to dethrone their West African rivals of the continental title.
The match was a repeat of the 2005 final, when D’Tigress defeated the Lionesses 64-57 in Abuja for their second African title.
The Nigerian girls had also defeated Senegal in their last Group B match 58-54 to emerge leaders and thus set up a potentially explosive final game against their opponents, who were gunning for revenge.
The Lionesses raced to an 18-12 lead in the first quarter but Sam Vincent’s youthful side, who held a 100 per cent record on the way to the final, had other ideas.
Led by the inspirational Dallas Wings point guard Evelyn Akhator, D’Tigress were worthy leaders at half-time, after winning the second quarter 21-10. They then dominated the third quarter 15-7 and then sealed a third African title after consigning their West African rivals to a 17-13 win in the last quarter to send their teeming fans at the Palais des Sports SalamatouMaïga, Bamako, into rapturous celebrations.
Ekhator emerged top performer for Nigeria with 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
The Nigerian girls did not hide their desire to rule African basketball once again — after the triumphs of 2003 and 2005 — right from the buzzer of their first game against Mozambique, who they defeated 80-69 before recording an 84-47 win over DR Congo.
They then whipped Egypt 106-72 , trounced Guinea 106-33 and then beat Senegal 58-54 to top their group and set up a quarterfinal clash against Ivory Coast, who fell 98-43.
But on Saturday, the Nigerians survived a scare from hosts Mali, who they narrowly edged 48-47 in the semifinal. The match evoked memories of 2015, when D’Tigress crashed out painfully at the same stage to hosts Cameroon by a single point but this time, the new champions were going to have none of that, as they were the ones who smiled to the final of the championship — on the way to their third title — in style.
Nigeria and Senegal have thus qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Spain.
Sam Vincent’s assistants at the championship are Dolphins Basketball Club coach Ochuko Okworogun, and Peter Ahmedu, while D’Tigress ex-captain Mfon Udoka is the team manager.
Earlier in the day, Mali claimed the last spot on the podium, after edging out Mozambique, 75-52, in the 3rd-Place Game.
Senegal’s Astou Traore, who scored a game-high 17 points in the final, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, headlining the All-Star Five Awards, where she was joined by Akhator, Italee Lucas(Angola), Leia Dongue (Mozambique) and Nagnouma Coulibaly (Mali). Punch