Nigeria’s D’Tigress set to face Rwanda in Women’s Afrobasket semi-final clash

Nigeria’s D’Tigress on Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda extended their winning streak in Africa to 22 straight wins by over-running Mozambique 59-52 to advance to the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket semi-finals.

The hard-earned win means the Nigerian senior women national basketball team will now meet hosts Rwanda in Thursday’s semi-finals.

Mozambique led at the break, after 18-16 and 15-13 wins in the first and second quarters, but Nigeria overcame their lethargy to eventually turn the tables around.

They outscored Mozambique 18-10 in the third quarter to set the tone to claiming the win, before a close 12-9 win in the fourth and final quarter.

With Nigeria trailing by four points at half-time, they had to find a way to get back into the game.

When the opportunity occurred, Elizabeth Balogun seized the opportunity to help Nigeria tie the contest at 40-40.

Amy Okonkwo then gave the reigning champions a short but solid advantage, before Ifunaya Okoro scored from behind the arc to give Nigeria the lead definitely.

Mozambique tried to fight back, but they met a resilient and combative Nigeria.

Okonkwo chipped in 17 points, Balogun contributed 12 points, and Sarah Ogoke finished just one point shy from a double digit.

Nearly every Nigerian ended the game with at least two points to their credit.

However, what saved Nigeria was the depth of their bench, which produced 22 of the 59 points Nigeria needed to see off Mozambique.

Nigeria also made the difference on free throws ratio, having 14 for 18 free throws which gave them the edge over Mozambique who had 16 from 24 attempts.

The D’Tigresses also out-rebounded Mozambique 51-43, by being more active on the defensive side with 38 boards.

But ironically, the game’s best rebounder was Mozambique’s Tamara Seda.

With this win, Nigeria have also sent a message to hosts Rwanda that they will be tough nuts to crack, ready and focused on getting a fourth title in a row.

Speaking after the game, Nigeria guard Sarah Ogoke said while their opponents were good her team was better and deserved their win.

“Mozambique are a great team, and credit to them for putting up such a game. But we stayed together and we made it through,” she said.

Looking ahead to their semi-final fixture, Obote said: “We’re going to be playing against the stadium, against the fans, against the entire country.

“So it’s going to be very difficult. We will try to get us to Saturday’s final and to the 2024 Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).

“We definitely have what it takes to make it four titles in a row and we have a way of making things happen. And we’ll find a way.”(NAN)