D’Ti­gress Cel­e­brate Sene­gal Bro­ken Jinx

THISDAY - - THURSDAYSPORTS - Olawale Aji­mo­tokan in Abuja

D’Ti­gress of Nige­ria have con­tin­ued to bask in the eu­pho­ria of their 2017 Women Afrobas­ket vic­tory with a solemn dec­la­ra­tion that their tri­umph has fi­nally ended the dom­i­na­tion of Sene­gal over them as the stan­dard bench­mark of bas­ket­ball for women in Africa.

The Nige­rian ladies re­mark­ably won all eight matches at the cam­paign in Ba­mako, Mali and capped it all with a dou­ble over con­ti­nen­tal pow­er­house, Sene­gal.

They de­feated the Lionesses 48-44 in Group B match and capped it with another win in the fi­nal to se­cure their third con­ti­nen­tal ti­tle since 2003 and 2005.

Nkechi Akashili and Sarah Ogoke summed up the up­beat mood when the team was hosted in Abuja upon ar­rival from Mali.

“For sure, we have ended Sene­gal dom­i­na­tion over us in con­ti­nen­tal bas­ket­ball. They have dom­i­nated us for ages and after we surged past Mali in the semi-fi­nal, we re­solved to beat Sene­gal to prove a point, and we did that we ac­tu­al­ized in the fi­nal. The way for­ward is for the board to put in camp in time for the World Cham­pi­onship in Spain. We need to train more to­gether so that we can forge a bet­ter un­der­stand of our­selves. The bet­ter when we stay to­gether,” said Akashili of First Bank bas­ket­ball team

Her po­si­tion was echoed by team mate, Ogoke, who plays for Real Club, Celta Vigo of Spain.

The US-born guard, de­scribed the Afrobas­ket win as a new dawn for fe­male bas­ket­ball in Nige­ria, stress­ing that they now want to rule the con­ti­nent for many years to come.

“What I be­lieve is that when your prepa­ra­tion is good, suc­cess will fol­low. it was not easy but we were able to ac­com­plish it. Sene­gal used to be our bo­gey team, our big­gest ri­val. But we have bro­ken their jinx. It is the new era for Nige­ria. We had a lot of new play­ers and bet­ter play­ers with ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s just the be­gin­ning for us,” Ogoke said.

She at­trib­uted their im­pres­sive out­ing to the su­perb coach­ing and tac­tics of the coaches led by Sam Vin­cent, in ad­di­tion to a crop of play­ers that re­fused to lose.

“The next tar­get is the World Cham­pi­onship. But we just have to put our house in or­der and im­prove this team and achieve our goal of a top four fin­ish in Spain. We have to work to­wards that,’’ she said.

Ogoke... thrilled by AfroBas­ket vic­tory in Mali

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