Nigeria’s National Women’s Basketball team, D’Tigress, have booked a ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo despite losing to host-Serbia in their second Group A game at the ongoing FIBA Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament 64-70 points. Nigeria are now guaranteed a top-three finish in the group with the hosts set for a crucial showdown with Mozambique tomorrow.
Mozambique’s quest to qualify ahead of Nigeria suffered a heavy knock when they lost scandalously 49-124pts against current world champions- USA. Being in command of the first quarter which they won 22-21pts, their good works were undone in the 2nd and 3rd quarters as their inability to convert their chances saw Serbia work their way back into contention winning 22-12 and 16-12 to open a decent lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Nigeria’ senior women national team tried to rally back in the last quarter after cutting down the deficit to just 4 points with less than two minutes to go, but two successive turnovers by Ezinne Kalu put a stop to that.
Although, they picked the last quarter, 18-11, it was a case of too little too late against the host who on the back of a vociferous home support stood their ground to see out the game.
Kalu led the charge for Nigeria with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals while Promise Amukamara scored 15 points, 4 rebounds on the night. Team captain, Adaora Elonu weighed in with 9pts of her own as well as 6rebs. On Sunday, Nigeria will take on USA in their last group game which will have no effect on the 2020 Olympics qualification.
How the journey started
Nigeria celebrated a key victory as they overcame African counterparts Mozambique 85-51 last Thursday. There was little to separate the two teams in a back and forth first quarter before Nigeria put the clamps on their opponents, conceding just 2 points in a six-minute stretch as they established a double-digit cushion by half-time. And, the gap only went in one direction from there. Promise Amukamara had an impact off the bench, hitting her side’s only triple of the first half, just before the buzzer, as part of a 14-point contribution, whilst rounding out her display with 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists. An eye-watering 21 turnovers from Mozambique in the first 20 minutes hindered their cause and their eventual total hit 38 as they were forced to chase the game in the second half. How to qualify With regular and competitive tournaments scheduled throughout the year as part of the Women’s National Team Competition System 2019+, qualification for the Olympic Games tipped off in November 2019. National teams participated in FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments in three regions – Africa, Americas, Asia (including Oceania) – to qualify for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2020, taking place in February. The national teams of Mozambique and Nigeria claimed the two spots reserved for Africa, the Americas tournaments saw Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States advance, while Australia, China, Japan and Korea progressed from Asia-Oceania. In Europe, six teams secured FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments berths directly via their FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019 results with the six top-ranked teams confirming their spots. These teams are Spain, France, Serbia, Great Britain, Sweden and Belgium. The 16 teams participating in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments were split into four groups of four teams, with the top three teams from each group set to advance to Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament. Both the USA, current gold medalists, and Japan, the hosts, will play in the qualification tournaments but are guaranteed Tokyo 2020 berth regardless of their results.