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Nigeria’s D’Tigress Inches Towards Olympics Following Triumph Over Senegal

Amy Okonkwo plays for Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket in the Ligue Féminine de Basketball

‌In a crucial match held in Antwerp on Thursday February 8, Nigeria women’s basketball team mounted a remarkable comeback to defeat Senegal 72-65, boosting their chances of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This game was critical for both teams ,who have difficult fixtures ahead against Belgium and the United States. Nigeria, Senegal, U.S. (2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup champions) and Belgium are in the same group. Only three out of the four in the group will qualify for the Olympics.

Before the start of the fourth quarter, D’Tigress were trailing by eight points in the game. However, in the fourth quarter, Nigeria went on an 11-0 scoring run, overturning the deficit and controlling the game.

‌This turnaround was led by Amy Okonkwo, who scored 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three 3 pointers. The performance earned her the Player of the Game award. Only Senegalese Yacine Diop outscored Okonkwo, with 23 points, though it was not enough to get them a win over Nigeria.

Senegal, despite leading for much of the game, was unable to maintain their advantage in the closing stages.

D’Tigress are yet to lose to an African team since 2015 – nine years ago.

Nigeria’s Women’s Basketball coach, Rene Wakama, praised the team’s unity and determination to fight back.

“I am so incredibly proud of my team and I have special group,” said Coach Wakama. “The game was not pretty, but they stuck together and they got it done.

“It was beautiful as a coach to see them come together and fight back when things were not going their way. This game felt like a final because we knew what was at stake. But we only just got past this first road block.”

On the other hand, Senegal’s new head coach, Alberto Antuna, said he was “really proud” of his players’ performance despite losing while controlling most of the game. He went further to express his optimism on the future of the Senegalese team.

The FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2024 will take place from 8-11 February.

Just a day after Nigeria national football team made it to the final of African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigerian athletes have again given the country reasons to smile.

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