Head coach of Nigeria’s senior women’s national team, Sam Vincent started his second stint with the D’Tigress on an impressive note as his side recorded an emphatic 80 points to 69 points win over familiar foes, Mozambique on Friday.
Vincent in a business-like fashion opted to start the game with Ogoke Sarah, Elonu Adaora, Madu Ndidi, Akhator Evelyn and Kalu Ezinne in his quest to make a statement at the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket tournament.
This immediately paid off as Evelyn who currently plies her trade in the Women National Basketball Association (WNBA) with Dallas Wings opened her account with two points after she was fouled inside the paint in the early seconds of the game.
It was a case of a dominant Nigerian team led by Adaora with 17points and 7 rebounds bringing their experience to bare against the girls from Mozambique who were finding it difficult to cope with how well the D’Tigress were moving the ball around.
Despite the duo of Dongue Leia scoring 19points with 5 rebounds and Cossa Anabela weighing in with 13 points, D’Tigress trio of Ogoke with 11 points, Akhator with 13points and Ezinne with 16 all weighed in with double digits to ease the workload on Adaora on their way to record their first win of the tournament.
With a total of 7 rebounds, team captain, Aisha Mohammed led the rebound table and closely followed by Adaora and Akhator with 6 rebounds each.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Vincent said it was important and good for the team’s psyche to win their first game of the tournament irrespective of the margin.
Despite admitting that the team could still play better against other teams in the tournament, he said the players came together as a unit to play which was very important against a tactically sound Mozambique.
“I think for our first game, it’s good to get the win. I don’t particularly think we played all that well. We are not really a big team, so we gave up a lot of rebounds, they scored pretty easy on the inside but I thought the second half, we fought a little bit harder, did a little bit better on the boards and we were able to make some shots on the outside.”
In his opinion, the team which is made up of the young and the experienced must play better and improve with each game.
“We have a good combination of players. We have some players who have the experience at the WNBA level and obviously, we have some strong regional players. We’ve got to play better with every game and that is our goal.”
On the individual performances of the players, the retired NBA player explained that “I thought Sarah played well, I thought our bench came in and gave us a big support. In this kind of tournament, everybody is going to play, you never know who your best player is going to be.”
He continued further by saying, “Everybody is going to work hard, play hard and sometimes your bench comes in to save you. I am sure Sarah is going to have a good tournament and play better.
“But, I thought in this game, Ezinne did a really good job, Aisha came up off the bench and gave us a big lift and Adaora also did a good job around the basket.”
Ahead of the team’s next game against the Democratic Republic of Congo taking place at 4 pm local time, Vincent said,
“We’ve got a group that is committed to playing hard, playing together and trying to win. What we don’t have is a lot of sizes and so, we are scrappy, we are going to play hard, we are going to see if we can get out and run and I think this is going to be a fantastic tournament for these ladies that are playing.”