The Afrobasket Championship final, played in front of an impressive Bamako crowd, saw the Nigerian girls going better than they did in the group stage of the competition against the same opponents, as they stifled the Senegalese’ ammunitions en route the trophy.
The D’Tigresses had earlier booked their ticket to the World Championship when they defeated hosts, Mali in the semifinal on Saturday.
Yesterday’s battle was touted as a revenge mission for the Senegalese, but they could not stand the fury in the Nigerians’ play, especially the brilliant Evelyn Akhator, who combined gracefully with Ezinne Kalu to confound the Francophone girls.
Akhator accounted for 13 points to take the game from the Senegalese, who made the early noise, leading in the first quarter by 18 to 12. The D’Tigresses won the second quarter 21 to 10 and increased the lead in the third quarter, which they won 15 to 7 before rounding off play in the fourth quarter with 17 to 13 points.
Yesterday’s victory was Nigeria’s third in the competition having won it in Mozambique in 2003 under the same American coach, Sam Vincent. Vincent also led them to a successful defence of the title in Abuja in 2005, but they did not win it again until yesterday.
Nigeria’s male team, who are also the title holders in the men’s category, will start the defence of their crown next month in Tunisia.