D’Tigress beat Algeria, qualify for quarterfinals

Patience Okpe goes for the basket during Nigeria’s game against Algeria…yesterday.

Patience Okpe goes for the basket during Nigeria’s game against Algeria…yesterday.

Yaoundé 2015 Afrobasket Championship

Nigeria’s loss to Angola in their opening game of the on-going AfroBasket Women Championship is now a distant memory as they have won four games in a row to automatically qualify for the quarterfinal phase of the competition holding in Cameroun.

Despite beating continental rivals, Senegal, 75 to 64 on Monday, the Nigerian girls yesterday needed to beat Algeria to secure their passage to the last eight of the competition. And they did just that, beating the North Africans 79-49.

Three Nigerians scored 10 points or more while Algeria’s Sarah Nemmouchi finished with a team-high 13 points.

After trailing for the entire opening quarter, Nemmouchi gave Algeria an 18-16 lead, but Nigeria’s Olayinka Sanni got her team back in front to close the half leading 30-21.

There could not be a bigger indication of Nigeria’s dominance in the painted area than their 57 to 32 rebounding advantage as three Nigerian players grabbed 10 or more boards.

Nigeria’s coach, Scott Nnaji, used all 12 players at his disposal as they head into the last eight with a four-game winning streak.

Meanwhile, D’Tigress star, Olayinka Sanni, has described the presence of legendary Mfon Udoka in their camp as a morale booster.

Udoka, 39, who inspired Nigeria to its two consecutive wins so far (2003 and 2005) is in Yaoundé to energise the glory seeking D’Tigress who are aiming at the third title.

“For me, Udoka has been like my role model. When I came in, in my first year to play in 2006 she was there and she was kind of my mentor as we played the same position. And she helped me along the way. She gave us hope that we can play for our country and play professionally.

“She has been a great inspiration for Nigeria’s women basketball and we look up to her.

“We are happy that she is here to give us support, and hopefully one day she will be along the sideline coaching us,” she told fiba.com. Sanni, who has played in the WNBA alongside Joyce Ekworomadu, stated that their ultimate target remains how to make Nigeria return to the 2016 Olympics.

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