By Albert Akota
Members of the D’Tigress team have attributed their record breaking feat at the ongoing FIBA Women’s world cup to the unflinching support given the team by the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) under the able leadership of Eng. Musa Kida.
The team said the solid structure which has continued to cause upsets would not have been possible without the right condition and atmosphere they are currently enjoying from the federation.
Speaking ahead of their quarter final game against United States of America on Friday, they unanimously agreed that their focus is on winning the 2018 FIBA Women’s world cup gold to compensate the President and the entire board for a job well done.
Team captain, Adaora Elonu said the world should not just be fixated on what the girls have achieved at the world cup without paying special attention to those who made it happen.
“We have never had this good until now. The world is talking about Nigeria upsetting bigger foes, but before we got to this stage, some people (NBBF) have been working behind the scene to make sure that the players have the best of preparation and a conducive atmosphere heading to the world cup.”
Adaora said their success story which saw them win the 2017 African Women Championship and a quarter final ticket for the first time in the history of any African team cannot be complete without a special mention of Musa Kida and other board members.
Still buzzing from their quarter finals qualifiers win against Greece, the players are confident that they can upset USA on the road to a gold medal finish in appreciation of the ever supportive board and Nigerians.
Speaking after their last training session on Thursday, Atonye Nyingifa said the team’s ultimate target having qualified for the quarter finals is to be crowned world champions.
“That is our focus and that is what we are driving at. It just seems that for the past 2 years, our team has had great momentum which can be traced to the federation’s determination to see Nigeria do things right and rule the world.
“As long as we play together, stick together and do what we know to be our identity, I have no doubt in my mind that we are going for the gold.”
The forward who is not unaware of the threat posed by the world number one in their quest to win the coveted trophy said “We are going to expect them to come out playing hard and setting out with their best foot.
“They have a lot of height, speed on their team, they are a great team and they are projected to make it to the championships but I think we are going to go out there and give our best”, Atonye continued.
One of the tournament’s leading rebounders, Evelyn Akhator said “Nobody thought we would make it this far except for the President who said that Nigeria can shock the world. Whoever God wants to win will win no matter the level of opposition.”
Having defeated Turkey, Argentina and Greece who are all ranked in the top 20 in the world, Akhator is not perturbed playing against USA.
“It does not matter who we are facing. They will try to defend their title I really don’t care. We have come this far and we are not looking back.