D’Tigress star, Evelyn Akhator is confident that Nigeria can be among top basketball nations in the world considering the rapid growth of the game in the country.
D’Tigress recently qualified for their second Olympic Games after making their debut at Athens 2004. The Nigerian ladies have won back-to-back International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s AfroBasket titles on their way to qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
Nigeria’s women’s team won her first FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup match in 2018 and went on to qualify for the Games with a win against Mozambique after twice coming close to defeat top nations like the United States and Serbia.
Since August 2017, the team has been undefeated in Africa starting with a defeat of Mozambique and after going into the 2017 AfroBasket tournament as 42nd in the world, they have since risen to 14th in less than three years and Akhator has said they will become a top 10 side in no time.
They went into that tournament as 42nd in the world and have since risen to 14th in a space of three years and according to power forward Evelyn Akhator, one of the team’s biggest assets and dependable players, they are aiming even higher at the upper echelons.
Speaking to FIBA.basketball, Akhator who was drafted as a number three pick by the Dallas Wings in the 2017 WNBA Draft admitted that D’Tigress is hungry for more success. They want to take on the world and beat the best teams.
“Who doesn’t want to go to the Olympics? 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.”
“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 year.”
With the 2021 Women’s AfroBasket coming closely after the Tokyo Games, Akhator understands the difficulties that could come next year, but is ready to be sensible.
She said: “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 teams.”
If Nigeria win a third consecutive AfroBasket title, the country will be the second nation to do so after Senegal who won four back-to-back titles from 1974 to 1981.