Nigeria did the unexpected on Sunday when the D’Tigress defeated Turkey at the on-going FIBA Women World Cup in Tenerife, Spain. Although it was Nigeria’s first win in six outings at the highest level of women basketball, the surprise was in the victim, Turkey, which is rated as the seventh best team in the world.
Nigeria is in the 34th position. Now, D’Tigers must beat Argentina, which on paper is inferior to Turkey, to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Argentina lost to the U.S and Turkey in the two matches it has played so far and so has nothing but pride to play for. But a victory for Argentina could scuttle D’Tigress’ hopes as Turkey could get a better result against U.S than Nigeria had with the Americans.
As was the case in the last game, Coach Otis Hughley will rely on the sensational Sarah Ogoke to propel the D’Tigress to success.
How ironic that the girl, who almost did not make the cut, has become the lynchpin in the team’s offence.
A highly impressed Hughley yesterday confessed that he nearly dropped Ogoke from his squad, saying the team’s number seven had trouble fitting into the group.
“Playing Afrobasket, FIBA America and Eurobasket was different from playing the World Cup and we were getting these girls ready to play the World Cup and it was a tough transition for Sarah,” he said.
The former Golden State Warriors assistant coach revealed that Ogoke forced her way into the team with her shooting ability, which paid off against Turkey.
“There was trouble for Sarah making the top 12, but I said, you know what, she can score, she can shoot we had to keep her,” he said.
The 22-point heroine has promised that the team will keep up their good work in their last group game today.
She added: “Sunday’s game was good, but we are not going to dwell on it for too long. We still have another very big and must win game against Argentina tomorrow.”
Ogoke added another dimension to today’s clash with the Argentines when she said the D’Tigress would finally put the ghost of Super Eagles’ perennial loss to Argentina at the FIFA World Cup.
“This is going to be our revenge against Argentina that took out the Super Eagles at the FIFA World Cup. So we have to beat Argentina.”
Also speaking on today’s game, Besiktas of Turkey’s new signing, Evelyn Akhator said, “No game is easy, if you underrate any team, you probably might be surprised. This is the game that we really need. We need to beat Argentina by a big margin.”
She believes Nigeria is on to great things at the on-going World Cup, adding, “we trust each other and that’s key. If we keep trusting ourselves, we are going to go far.”