TENERIFE, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 28: A’ja Wilson #9 of the USA National Team shoots the ball against Nigeria during the Quarterfinals of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup at Pabellon de Deportes de Tenerife Santiago Martin on September 28, 2018 in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Spain. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE. Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP
Seen as one of the teams at the Tenerife 2018 FIBA Women World Cup just there to make up the numbers, Nigeria’s D’Tigress were the revelation of the just concluded championship, where they finished as the eight best team in the world.
Until this championship, no African side had crossed the group stage of the competition.
But D’Tigress broke the jinx when they defeated better-rated sides like Turkey, Greece and Argentina to make the last eight, where they eventually lost narrowly to defending champions, the U.S.
Yesterday in the classification battle, the girls lost by the narrowest of margins to Canada (72 to 73) to end in the eight position.
In the game played at the San Cristobal de la Laguna arena, Canada took the lead 21 to 17 in the first quarter, but Nigeria clawed back in the second, making 19 points to the opponent’s nine.
The third quarter was tied at 19 points apiece before the Canadians edged the game in the fourth quarter with 24 points to Nigeria’s 18 to end the game 73 to 72.
As has been the case in this championship, Evelyn Akhator was the leader in the D’Tigress line up with 13 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a +16 efficiency.
On the other side, Canada’s Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe led her team with +16 efficiency, 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Congratulating the Nigerian side for a job well done, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung said the team displayed a high sense of patriotism, determination and hard-work during the competition.
“On behalf of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari, I congratulate you on your excellent outing in Spain.
You have shown that you’re now a strong force in basketball not only in Africa but now globally.
“I want to commend the leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation led by Engineer Musa Kida for their investment of time and resources in the team which yielded this unprecedented result in basketball.
This has shown that our insistence that stakeholders be allowed to run their game was not to witch hunt anyone but to ensure that Stakeholders own their game.”
He thanked the players and the technical crew for their dedication and resilience in the face of stiff opposition.
“The players and technical crew showed an unprecedented level of dedication and never say die spirit during their crucial matches against Turkey, Greece and Argentina.
You have emerged the first African team to play in the World Cup quarterfinals and its something you should be proud of.
Your ranking has also catapulted from 34th to eighth.”