Nigeria women’s basketball team, D’Tigress stunned Malian Ladies 70-59 points to emerge champions of Africa for the third consecutive title in the final match of FIBA Women’s AfroBasket on Sunday. The coach Otis Hughley-tutored side were brilliant in their gallant display of character, resilience and tenacity during the tournament.
The Nigerian ladies had started the first quarter in their usual dominance leading Malians 22-11 but the Malians made a quick response in the second quarter with a shock points 13-9. Though the Nigerian team obviously worked to defend the first quarter lead, the Malians were more positively aggressive in their style of play as they smiled better in the second quarter.
After the break, D’Tigress, having had some pep talk from their coach Otis who took over from former coach Sam Vincent, showed brilliance in character, overpowering the Malians in the third quarter. Team captain Adaora Elonu, Victoria Macaulay and Ezinne Kalu combined in play to cruise into a comfortable lead 28-14.
The bench of the Nigerian team was constantly reacting with full support, gingering players on court, especially from coach Otis. Nigeria sustained the momentum with a few minutes to the end game to lead 20- points over their opponent in the fourth quarter. However, the Malian ladies at the twilight of the fourth quarter did put up a brave fight to reduce the lead to 11 points. And surprisingly! They won the fourth quarter 21-11, but it wasn’t enough to deny D’Tigress their third consecutive title having won it in 2017 and 2019. Meanwhile, with the win in the final it becomes fifth title won by the Nigerian women’s team.
Despite the defeat Malian ladies can hold their head-up, especially Mariam Coulibally who posted 13 points and rebounds to finish as top performer for Mali. In the Nigerian team Victoria Macaulay showed class of brilliance to emerge Nigeria’s top performer with 15 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 3 blocks.
Nigeria’s captain Adaora Elonu was voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. Also she was selected along with her compatriot, Ezinne Kalu as two Nigeria in the tournament All-Star 5 team.
The third place match was won by Cameroon 53-49 points victory over 11- time champion Senegal.