With a history that dates as far back as 10 years before Nigeria gained her independence, the game of basketball has enjoyed nationwide recognition and participation over the years. However, it was not until 24 years later that Nigeria had a female team representation at the 1974 African Championship for Women. D’Tigress could not make it past the preliminary round of the tournament, a fate that befell the team yet again 7 years later at the 1981 African Championship for Women.
2004 Summer Olympics
The first time the Nigeria senior women’s basketball team would play outside Africa was at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. D’Tigress clinched their berth via a zonal qualifying tournament to play against twelve of the world’s very best female basketball teams at the Olympics.
Drafted in Group A alongside Australia, Greece, Brazil, Japan and Russia, the team went down 0-5 in the preliminary games, with their single win at the event in an 11/12th place game against Korea.
With this win, D’Tigress became the first women’s African basketball team to win a game at the Olympics. Mfon Udoka was the team’s leading scorer and the tournament’s second highest scorer.
The team qualified for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women by winning the 2005 FIBA Africa Championship for Women. They were placed in group C with China, United States and Russia. Unfortunately, like two years before, they could not progress into the second round of the tournament.
Twelve years later, Nigeria at position 4 in the FIBA zonal ranking, and 42nd in the FIBA World ranking will be making a second World Cup appearance with the hopes of surpassing their record in the last tournament they played.
Feature image: sportsdayonline.com