The last three years have been nothing but triumphant and prosperous for Nigeria winning back-to-back FIBA Women’s Afro Basket titles, competing at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018, and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic.
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It has been a show of talent, mental toughness, and ultimately power so strong that they remain unbeaten in Africa since stepping on the court against Mozambique in their Group B opener on August 18, 2017, at the continental competition in Bamako, Mali.
They went into that tournament as 42nd in the world and have since risen to 14th in a space of three years and according to power forward Evelyn Akhator, one of the team’s biggest assets and dependable players, they are aiming even higher at the upper echelons.
Speaking exclusively to FIBA. basketball, Akhator who was drafted as a number three pick by the Dallas Wings in the 2017 WNBA Draft admitted that Digress is hungry for more success. They want to take on the world and beat the best sides.
If no one believes them then Akhator would have to direct them to this year’s battle against the reigning World and Olympic champions the USA who was on the brink of a loss if not for the last quarter rally that saw them snatch victory from the hands of the Nigerians who had led for three quarters and almost cruised to what would have been a memorable win.
“Much respect to Brittney Grinner because she was the only person that came through for them. She could not be stopped in that game even though we almost pulled it off but we are one step closer to our goal,” Akhator explained USA’s late 76-71 win over Nigeria.
Despite that painful loss, D’ Tigress booked their slot at the Tokyo Olympic and this will be Nigeria’s second time to play at the prestigious competition.
“Who doesn’t want to go to the Olympics? Hearing the word “Olympics” itself was a motivation for us to fight. We were not ready to wait another four years before earning another spot to qualify for the Olympics while the ticket was right in our faces so we had to do what we can to grab it.”
I always believe I would get to the Olympics from the day I started playing for the national team and I am glad it all came to pass. Going to Tokyo has always been my dream because I watch lots of Japanese movies and I am excited I will be going their next year by God’s grace.
I see Nigeria getting to the top and becoming a Top 10 country in basketball. Nobody would have thought we would be a Top 20 side and now we are number 14 in the world. I only pray that we all achieve that dream of being top of the best very soon.
“Basketball has taught me how to be a team player as well as accepting defeat. It has introduced me to so many people. Basketball is putting food on my table. Basketball is changing my life for the better. It has helped me in getting my Bachelor’s Degree and for that I am grateful,” she supposed.
When all this is done, I am hoping to travel back to the US to fix a few things before I finally move back to France in September to focus on the upcoming season. Akhator and her teammates have one year to prepare for the showdown as they try to conquer the world at the Tokyo Olympic next summer games.
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