FIBA Women: Favourites Nigeria advance to quarter-finals

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Nigeria women's national basketball team, also known as D'Tigeress, celebrating after reaching quarter-finals at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019

Reigning champions Nigeria booked their place in the Quarter-Finals of the 26th edition of the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket, at the Dakar Arena in Senegal.

Defending champions Nigeria made light work of Cameroon 106-39 on Tuesday in a one-sided tie.

Four players scored 14 points apiece including captain Adaora Elonu, Aisha Balarabe, debutant Promise Amukamara and Ify Ibekwe, while point guard Ezinne Kalu added 12 points to inspire Nigeria to the biggest win at this tournament so far.

This performance was a statement of intent from the West Africans who bossed the paint, picking an incredible 54 rebounds as compared to Cameroon’s 18. Of the 54, Elonu picked eight, while Evelyn Akhator got seven.

Nigeria led 17-0 in the first quarter before Cameroon found their feet to finally score, but even then the gulf in class was visibly evident.

The Lionesses’ body language said it all amidst their own self-inflicted shocking performance.

Nigeria led 49-23 at the half time break and resumed play in the third quarter with the same intensity that they started the game with.

They executed a full court press and completely sent the Cameroon guards into disarray much to the shock of head coach Natosha Cummings-Price who could not believe her eyes.

Ibekwe, Balarabe and Atonye Nyingifa wore their hearts on their sleeves and threw everything on court and in the same spirit Kalu was immense at the top.

In the end, Nigeria was too strong for their neighbours Cameroon who had no answers to all the questions D’Tigress threw at them throughout the game.

Meanwhile, hosts Senegal registered their second victory at the tournament defeating Egypt 85-47 in front of thousands of fans at the Dakar Arena.

Point guard Ndeye Sene dropped a joint-game high 17 points, made three assists and picked two rebounds in what ranks high up among her best performances in a Senegalese jersey.

She was incredible to watch and when Senegal head coach Cheikh Sarr finally substituted her, the home crowd gave her a standing motivation.

Veteran Mame-Marie Sy added 12 points while captain Astou Traore posted a double double sinking 11 points and picking 10 rebounds with her teammate Yacine Diop adding 11 points and three rebounds.

Fatma Aly recorded 17 points and nine rebounds to her name with Soraya Degheidy coming off the bench to net 12 points, and eight rebounds but their efforts were not enough to help Egypt emerge victorious.

Elsewhere, the 2017 bronze medalists Mali cruised to victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo 82-56 despite a slow start that saw the Congolese lead 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Touty Gandega was in fine form dropping 19 points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds with Kadidia Maiga adding 12 points to help Sylvain Lautie’s side book a place in the last eight of this prestigious competition that has brought together 12 countries.

 

Chidi Nwoke.