Gallant D’Tigress succumb to U.S’ superior firepower
• It’s make or mar for D’Tigers this morning
Nigeria’s women basketball team, D’Tigress, began their journey at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on a losing note, but like their male counterparts, they showed signs of great improvement from the side that lost to U.S.A in a friendly game a couple of days ago.
Yesterday’s game had the trappings of a cup final, but the Nigerians were undone by the same mistakes that cost their men dearly against Australia.
The U.S. won by 81 points to 72, their lowest winning margin since 2004, which indicates the type of opposition they got from D’Tigress.
Yesterday’s victory took U.S., the world’s top-ranked team to 50 wins in a row and counting in Olympic competition. A’ja Wilson scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Americans, while Ezinne Kalu led Nigeria with 16 points.
It was the first time that a team had come within single digits of the US since a four-point win over Russia in the semifinals of 2004 Athens Games.
The Americans also beat Nigeria by 31 points in their third and final pre-Olympic warm-up.
With a roster full of former US college players, the Americans didn’t intimidate Nigeria. They jumped out to an 8-1 lead as the U.S. missed its first four shots and committed four turnovers. D’Tigers were up 20-17 after one quarter and extended the lead to 25-20 before the US took over.
In reply, the Americans scored 23 straight points to lead 44-32 at the half as Nigeria regrouped to score seven of the final eight points of the second quarter.
The U.S. extended the lead to 70-50 at the end of the third quarter on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Jewell Loyd. The Americans led 75-55 before Nigeria scored 12 straight points to cut it to eight with 3:19 left.
That’s as close as Nigeria would get.
Not deterred by the loss, D’Tigers’ Adaora Elonu, said, “It’s a mix of disappointment but also encouragement for us because we wanted some rhythm, and I think we got it toward the end.
“So, if we can carry it on for the next game it’ll be good. But I think it’s good we got it under 10 because here in this tournament all points matter.”
Praising his girls for a good show against the world champions, D’Tigress coach, Otis Hughley, said, playing against the U.S. is “like starting your boxing career and they tell you you’re fighting Muhammad Ali (USA) in his prime. Now that ain’t something you’re looking for. ‘I want to box, but I don’t want to box that bad’.”
D’Tigress next match is against France by 9.20 a.m., on Friday and take on Japan by 2.00 a.m. on Monday.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s men’s team, D’Tigers, will meet Germany in a make or mar game by 2.00 a.m. this morning. Both teams lost their opening games and need to win to remain in contention for the second round of the competition.
D’Tigers’ last match is against Italy by 5.40 a.m. on Saturday.
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