By Adedapo Adesanya
After 16 years of absence, the Nigerian Women’s Basketball Team, D’Tigress, have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
D’Tigress on Saturday booked a ticket to the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo despite losing to host of the qualifying tournament, Serbia, in their second group game 64 – 70 points. This was after securing their first win of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament against Mozambique, the back-to-back African champions.
On the other hand, Nigeria’s African neighbour, Mozambique’s suffered a heavy knock when they lost 49 -124 points against current world champions, USA.
This would be the first tournament that the African champions will be playing since Athens 2004 in Greece where they lost all five games: Australia (85-73); Japan (79-73); Greece (83-68); Brazil (82-63) and Russia (93-58).
With the qualification of the women’s team, they will join their male counterparts, D’Tigers, at the Olympic tournament later this year. This is also the first time that both Nigerian men and women national teams qualifying for the Olympics at the same time for the first time. It is also the first for any African country.
The Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) also attributed the qualification of D’Tigress for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo to the immense support of the President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare and millions of Nigerian basketball lovers all over the world.
Praising the team’s courage, the NBBF President, Mr Ahmadu Musa Kida, said the ability of the federation to produce two teams (men and women) for the same Olympics has never happened before in the history of basketball in Nigeria which made the feat even sweeter.
“We thank his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for his fatherly role and support all through this journey to book an Olympic Games ticket. The Honourable Minister also played a major role through his timely interventions, encouragement and the keen interest he developed towards basketball in Nigeria since assuming office,” he said.
Mr Kida also praised the fans for staying solidly behind D’Tigers and D’Tigress all through the qualifiers. The NBBF President also thanked them for the unflinching support of the Federation since he was sworn-in in 2017.
“This long journey was made easier by the fans who showed resilience and were relentless in their support for the two national teams. I am overwhelmed by the number of calls and text messages I have received since the teams qualified,” he continued.
On his part, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, congratulated the team after their Olympic Games’ ticket was confirmed and promised that adequate arrangements will be put in place to prepare the team for the 2020 Olympics as they continue their journey in making history.
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