Nigeria yesterday defeated Senegal 60 to 55 to retain the FIBA Women Afrobasket title in Dakar.
The Nigerian ladies defied the home support enjoyed by the Senegalese to take the game.
The D’Tigress looked to be coasting home after the third quarter but the Senegalese came back strong in the last quarter to take a brief lead before the Nigerians rallied back to win the game despite losing the final quarter to the host.
From the onset, D’Tigress were in top gear, racing to a 10-4 lead. But the Senegalese fought back gallantly to reduce the first quarter to 14-10 advantage Nigeria.
In the second quarter, D’Tigress continued their dominance, which ended in 32-24.
They also won the third quarter 16-13 to bring the cumulative score to 48-37. The Senegalese had a better quarter but the Nigerians rallied to win it and took an 11 point lead to the final quarter.
However, the drama was left for the final quarter when the Senegalese got 10 points without the Nigerians making any. It took the D’Tigress five minutes to make their first point in the final quarter and briefly relinquish the lead mid-way through the quarter which they lost 12-18. But by then, the Nigerians had done enough to earn victory and win their second consecutive title.
Meanwhile, players of the male national team, D’Tigers, who are in the last phase of their World Cup preparations in Lagos are distraught following the uncertainties surrounding their participation in the tournament, which tips off on August 31 in China.
The D’Tigers are one of the 32 teams billed for the World Cup that also serves as the 2020 Olympics qualifier.
The best placed African team in the tournament automatically qualifies for the Olympics. Five teams namely Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Angola and Cote d’Ivoire are representing Africa at the World Cup.
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, has not released funds for the World Cup, despite not funding the team’s qualifying tournament.
According to the Team Manager, Musa Adamu, the situation in camp looks gloomy as players feel neglected by the government.
“They are not happy. They feel neglected. They believe that if it was football, government would not treat them like this,” said Adamu.
“It is not only that it is the basketball World Cup, the tournament also serves as 2020 Olympics qualifier. This is the more reason why government should provide the funds. This is the national team; the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has tried its best.
“The government should not leave the burden to the NBBF alone. The NBBF in the past two years has funded all national teams’ assignments, both men and women, nothing from the government,” he lamented.