The D’Tigress recorded their second win at the ongoing 2017 FIBA Women Afrobasket tournament after digging deep to defeat the stubborn Democratic Republic of Congo 84-47.
Coach Sam Vincent again put faith in Ogoke Sarah, Elonu Adaora, Madu Ndidi, Akhator Evelyn and Kalu Ezinne who started against Mozambique in their first game on Friday at the Palais Des Sports arena in Bamako.
However, Nigeria got her win through the unusual suspects with Elitzur Holon of Isreal star, Nyingifa Atonye Jennifer registering 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists to lead the overall statistics table.
Upe Atosu scored 12points and provided 2 assists for the team while his Elephants Girls of Lagos counterpart, Nkeshi Akashili added 11points, 1 assist and 3 steals as she continued to push for a regular playing time in the team.
Adaora Elonu who led the team’s scoring chart in their last game against Mozambique caught 5 rebounds, provided 4 assists and scored 9 points.
D’Tigress for the second time in as many games dominated proceedings and led their opponents all through the game to eventually emerge comfortable winners.
At the end of the first quarter, Nigeria shot to a 23points to 8 lead before extending it to 41 points to 30 at the end of the second quarter.
It was not a third quarter that the D’Tigress team wished for as they struggled to make the baskets despite being in possession and moving the ball around for the better part of the quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, they only managed to score just 11 points which prompted the technical crew to call on fresh hands from the bench for the fourth quarter.
The display in the last quarter was a joy to behold with spectators and handful of Nigerians present at the arena led by the Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, His Excellency, Ken Nwachukwu rising to their feet at intervals to applaud the team’s display.
The team justified their pre-tournament hype as one of the teams to beat at the 2017 Afrobasket tournament as they put up a commanding performance to end the game at 84-47 against a side that made a return to the continental competition after more than 40 years of absence.
Speaking at the end of the game, D’Tigress point guard, Kalu Ezinne described the game as tough and an eye opener despite their display in the fourth quarter that gave them the comfortable lead.
Despite managing just 7 points less than 24hours after scoring a massive 16 points against Mozambique, Kalu who became a sensation at the 2016 Olympics qualifiers for the D’Tigress in France, is not worried as she is gratified that she played according to instructions.
“We just didn’t put a little bit of body on everybody. We really need to focus on boxing out because we are going to play bigger teams. So, I think as a team, we need to focus on boxing out and not allow our opposition to get the second chance shots.”
Despite admitting the need to be more decisive against their opponents, Kalu is not worried about their chances against bigger teams.
“It doesn’t make me worry, it just shows that we definitely need to buckle down on it. We just have to take it one game at a time. We need to focus on shooting, tossing out, boxing out and focus on the second chance shots so that when we play big team we don’t have to worry about these things,” Kalu concluded.
The team’s next game will be against Egypt by 9:00 am (local time) on Sunday.