Nigeria on Wednesday became the first African team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup in Spain with a 57-56 win over Greece in their qualification match.
D’Tigress face defending champions USA on Friday for a place in the semifinals.
Having finished second in Group B with five points behind Australia, who secured the automatic quarter-final ticket in the group, Nigeria faced Greece, who finished third in Group A.
Despite a strong start from Nigeria, the first quarter ended 15-15 but D’Tigress came out in the second quarter with a 16-11 win. They extended the lead with a 17-11 win in the third quarter but slumped to a 19-9 loss in the fourth quarter.
Former Dallas Wings forward Evelyn Akhator accounted for 14 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, four steals and one block for Nigeria. But Maria Fasoula was the star for Greece as she weighed in 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Nigeria converted 34 per cent of their two point field goals against Greece’s 41 per cent. D’Tigress had a three-point field goal conversion rate of 21 per cent against 15 per cent for Greece. Nigeria had a total of 48 rebounds and Greece had 45. The Europeans had 19 turnovers – same as Nigeria.
Greece converted 69 per cent of their throws while D’Tigress managed to convert 59 per cent of their free throws. Nigerian players made 11 assists against Greece’s 12 and D’Tigress made 13 steals against the five made by Greece. Greece five blocks in the match while Nigeria got three blocks.
Both teams had 32 points each in the paint while Nigeria had more fast break points (six) than Greece, who had none.
Kano Pillars coach Sani Ahmed, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday, said, “They (D’Tigress) have done very well and deserve commendation.The girls have shown that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
“Their match against USA will be their toughest test but in basketball, anything can happen – the game is not over until after the buzzer.”