Nigeria on Saturday began their campaign at the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup in Spain with an 86-68 loss to Australia in Tenerife.
Competing in Group B, D’Tigress failed to contain rampaging Dallas Wings star Elizabeth Cambage, who has a Nigerian father, as the fourth-ranked Australia ran away winners.
Nigeria will hope to get their first-ever win at the World Cup when they face Turkey on Sunday in their second match. Turkey beat Argentina 63-37 in the other Group B on Saturday.
Australia ran riot on Nigeria from the first quarter winning 24-17 before extending the lead in the second quarter 18-14. Nigeria won the third quarter ended 23-21. But the game was wrapped up with a 23-11 win by Australia in the last quarter.
Former Dallas Wings forward Evelyn Akhator was the star for Nigeria as she accounted for 21 points, five rebounds, one assist and two blocks. But Cambage was the star for the Aussies as she got 34 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and four blocks.
In a total domination of the match, Australia converted 58 per cent of their two point field goals against Nigeria’s 33 per cent. D’Tigress had a three point field goal conversion rate of 14 per cent against 23 per cent for Australia. Nigeria had a total of 42 rebounds and Australia had 41. Australia had 15 turnovers in their favour against Nigeria’s 13.
The Opals converted 85 per cent of their free throws while D’Tigress converted 71 per cent of their free throws. Nigerian players made 11 assists against Australia’s 25 and D’Tigress made 12 steals against the seven made by the Opals.
Nigeria’s bench proved less effective on the day as they accounted for only 15 points while the Australians got 29 points from the bench. Australia held a lead of 19-0 before Nigeria could get a point in the match.
Cambage said Nigeria were tough to beat.
“I don’t keep track of (my scoring records), I just go out and try and do my job.
You know, we have to get used to these rims, they are new rims so they are a bit bouncy, but it will come as the tournament comes along. It was a rough one right from the jump ball, but we stayed together as a team because Nigeria was tough and we’ll take the win.
We grinded it out, but there are a lot of things we need to improve on, because we had too many turnovers and gave up too many offensive rebounds.
Ahead of the Turkey match today, Akhator said the team would still work on their weaknesses.
We fought but then we just gave up a little in the last five minutes of the game. We shot ourselves in the foot. Cambage is a monster – she really is a beast. Overall, we just need to learn and come back really strong for the next game against Turkey.” She said.