In thrilling matchup that kept basketball fans on the edge of their seats, Nigeria’s D’Tgress claimed the FIBA Women’s Afrobasket for the fourth time in a row, and sixth overall, after beating Senegal 84-74 in Saturday’s final at BK Arena.
The weeklong tournament, held in Kigali, Rwanda, saw Nigeria exhibit their prowess and tenacity, proving themselves as the dominant force in African women’s basketball, finishing the campaign with an unbeaten record.
Having previously clinched the championship in 2003, 2005, 2017, 2019, and 2021, the Nigerian team, led by coach Rena Wakama, demonstrated their unwavering determination to continue their reign as the invincibles.
The final showdown against Senegal showcased the grit and skill from both teams.
In a gripping start, Nigeria were off to a flyer with a 19-10 lead in first quarter before winning the second quarter 24-21 to extend the lead at the break, positioning themselves on the verge of winning the championship.
However, the Senegalese team, not to be outdone, rallied back in the third quarter, outscoring Nigeria 26-19 and setting the stage for an intense face-off.
With the game on a knife-edge, the D’Tigress kept their composure and maintained the momentum in the fourth quarter.
Elizabeth Balogun scored 15 points, 5 rebounds and contributed 2 assists while Amy Okonkwo added 14 points and 8 rebounds to help the Nigerians surge forward.
Ifunaya Okoro’s 16 points and 4 assists further solidified Nigeria’s dominance in the game.
On the other side, Senegal’s Cierra Janay Dillard was relentless on the court, amassing 19 points 4 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals, while Yacine Diop contributed 16 points and 2 assists. However, their efforts fell short against resistant Nigeria whose pursuit of victory inspired their championship destiny.
With just two minutes left on the clock, Nigeria enjoyed a crucial 9-point lead over Senegal, which improved to 10 points to ensure their triumph in the 2023 Afrobasket, sparking a moment of emotions and celebrations among players, coaches and supporters inside the arena.
The D’Tigress’ success not only secured their sixth continental title but also earned them a coveted spot in the 2026 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, which will take place in Germany.
Coach Rena Wakama expressed her delight and pride in her team’s performance throughout the tournament, underscoring their commitment to breaking records and leaving an indelible mark on women’s basketball in Africa.
Source: The New Times