Afrobasket: Can D’Tigress make it three in a row?

D’Tigress will be lifted by a reminder of the glory of two years ago when their Afrobasket title begins against Mozambique in a Group B opener on Saturday (today) at the Palais Polyvalent des Sports in Yaounde, Cameroon, Saturday PUNCH reports.

This year’s FIBA Women’s AfroBasket runs from September 18 to 26.

The back-to-back champions, D’Tigress, also winners in 2003 and 2005 arrived in Yaounde on Wednesday with six players retained from the squad that triumphed in Dakar, Senegal two years ago.

Coach Otis Hughley side have been bolstered this time by the likes of Elizabeth Balogun, Pallas Kunayi-Akpannah, Nkem Akaraiwe, Amy Okonkwo, Oderah Chidom, who featured at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The quintet will be making their debut at the tournament alongside Nicole Enabosi and Murjanatu Musa while there was no space for veteran Aisha Mohammed and the duo Evelyn Akhator, Atonye Nyingifa.

Captain Adaora Elonu alongside Promise Amukamara, Ezinne Kalu, Sarah Ogoke, Victoria Macaulay and Ifunanya Ibekwe also made the squad.

This Nigerian side will be aiming to win it for a third straight time and fifth in their history.

The inevitable question is whether or not D’Tigress can become the first team to win the Afrobasket title three times in a row since Senegal conquered Africa from 1974 to 1984.

D’Tigress tactics under coach Hughley have been hotly debated after the team’s poor outing at the Tokyo Olympics after his team failed to win a game. They recorded three losses in the three games they played.

They will be eager to redeem their image by putting up a good show in Cameroon according to D’Tigers assistant coach Oga Odaudu.

“D’Tigress will have to perform better and improve and I have no doubt in my mind that they will defend their title as the players in the team are very good,” Odaudu told Saturday PUNCH.

He also warns that the team must be wary of Mozambique – a talented team led by the ever-impressive Leia Dongue.

As well as winning several awards at club and individual level in Africa, Dongue has been named to FIBA Women’s AfroBasket All-Tournament teams three times in 2013, 2017 and 2019 such is her impact.

“Dongue is a big player when it comes to the Afrobasket tournament and D’Tigress must be wary of her,” Odaudu continued.

“She has the quality to wreck any team on her day but I believe our girls have all that it takes to win the game and the tournament.”

Dongue was the top scorer at last year’s African Championship, and currently registers an average of 15.5 points and 8.45 rebounds per game in five editions of the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket dating back to 2011.

The four group winners will advance to the quarter-finals, with the remaining eight teams playing for the remaining four quarter-final tickets.

<<Punch>>