The D’Tigress have inched closer to the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup following a 65-67 victory over France in a qualification match on Friday.
Friday’s win was the first time the African champions have beaten their European counterpart.
The Nigerian girls were down by 20 points after the opening exchanges but gradually fought back, thanks to a Promise Amukamara’s half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the third.
Midway through the last quarter, Nigeria then took the lead to set up a dramatic ending. Although either of the countries could have gotten a win, it was Nigeria who did the job.
Victoria Macaulay had 19 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, while France were punished by a massive 25 turnovers in the game.
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‘We Came, We Triumphed’
“We came. We saw. We triumphed,” the D’Tigress tweeted on their handle, minutes after the game. “What was your best part of the game today?”
— #DTigress (@DtigressNG) February 11, 2022
Despite the loss, France joined China to book their spot for the Sydney tournament due to their positive point average (+9) in case of a tie with Nigeria and Mali. The Asians were the first to join the USA at the event after an 84-64 mauling of Mali in another Group B encounter in Belgrade.
Mali and Nigeria have to vie for the remaining ticket in the group. Coach Otis Hughley’s side will qualify with a win against their fellow West Africans. They will also qualify if they lose by 6 or less points if France beats China on Sunday.
On the other hand, Mali will get qualification by winning by 7 or more points against Nigeria. If they win by less than 7 points, they will need France to beat China in order to qualify. The game against Mali comes up on Sunday.
Before Friday’s game, Nigeria had lost their first match against China. They were beaten 90-76. But the Nigerian coach was optimistic that his team will bounce back from the setback.
“China is really good but no excuses,” Hughley said after the China defeat. “I thought the girls did not quit. I thought they played hard; I thought they had a physical game and by the second half, they were up to the task.”
The FIBA Women’s World Cup is billed for September in Australia.