D’Tigress of Nigeria centre, Evelyn Akhator, has expressed belief in the team’s ability to make it to the top as one of the top 10 basketball teams in the world. The team’s recent qualification for their second Olympics Games (Tokyo 2020) after their debut in Athens 2004, has seen them rise to prominence in the global rankings. Winners of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s AfroBasket Championship back-to-back (2017 and 2019), currently sit on the 14th spot globally.
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D’Tigress at the moment is the most dominant basketball team in Africa with an unbeatable record since August 2017 which started with a win over Mozambique, going into the 2017 AfroBasket tournament placed 42nd on the global ranking. The rise from the 42nd spot to the 14th spot in less than three years validates Akhator’s belief in the team.
I see Nigeria getting to the top and becoming a top 10 country in basketball. Nobody would have thought we would be a top 20 team and now we are number 14 in the worldEvelyn Akhator
The West African side who recorded their first FIBA World Cup win against Turkey in 2018, has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics games, for the first time in 16 years, and on two occasions came close to beating top basketball nations like the United States and Serbia. With the Olympics postponed to 2021 due to the corona virus pandemic, Akhator has expressed excitement at the prospect of representing Nigeria at the event and fulfilling her lifelong dream.
Hearing the word ‘Olympics, itself, was a motivation for us to fight. We were not ready to wait another four years before earning another spot to qualify for the Olympics, while the ticket was right in our faces, so we had to do what we can to grab it…I always believe I would get to the Olympics from the day I started playing for the national team and I am glad it all came to pass. Going to Tokyo has always been my dream considering the fact that I watch lots of Japanese movies and I am excited I will be going there next yearAkhator
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The Nigerian centre is also fully aware of the hectic schedule that awaits her and her teammates next year (2021) with the 2021 Women’s AfroBasket set to take place closely after the Olympics, but noted that the physical and mental awareness will not be lacking when needed.
I think playing and listening to my body as well as surrounding myself with positivity will keep me focused. I know the window between the Olympics and the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket is really short but it still will make us stay fully in shape mentally, physically, and also locked into the plays and the teamsAkhator
A third consecutive AfroBasket tournament victory will see D’Tigress become the second nation to achieve that feat after fellow West African side, Senegal, who boosts four back-to-back titles from 1974-1981.
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