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D’Tigress edge past Mozambique to reach AfroBasket semi-final

Nigeria’s women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, have advanced to the semi-final of the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket in Kigali, Rwanda, after beating Mozambique 59-52 on Wednesday.

The defending champions had to overcome a slow start and a four-point deficit at half-time to extend their unbeaten streak to 22 games in FIBA AfroBasket tournaments since 2015.

Amy Okonkwo led the scoring for D’Tigress with 17 points and six rebounds, while Elizabeth Balogun added 12 points and six rebounds. Ingvild da Ofilia Agostinho Mucauro was the top scorer for Mozambique with 16 points.

D’Tigress started the game brightly, taking a 9-2 lead in the first quarter, but Mozambique fought back and took an 18-16 lead at the end of the quarter, thanks to a three-pointer by Mucauro. The second quarter was evenly contested, with both teams exchanging baskets, but Mozambique maintained their four-point advantage at the break, 33-29.

D’Tigress came out stronger in the third quarter, with Balogun making two free throws to tie the game at 40-40 with four minutes left. Nigeria then went on a 7-3 run to take a four-point lead into the final quarter, 47-43.

The fourth quarter was a tense affair, with both teams playing hard on defense and limiting each other’s scoring opportunities. D’Tigress managed to keep their composure and their lead, as Okonkwo scored five crucial points in the last two minutes to seal the victory.

D’Tigress coach Rena Wakama praised her players for their fighting spirit and said they were ready for their next challenge. “These girls showed up and fought. They fought not only for me but for the country. Okay, with pride and a lot of passion,” she said.

D’Tigress will face hosts Rwanda in the semi-final on Thursday, while Mali will take on Senegal in the other semi-final. The final will be played on Saturday, August 5.

D’Tigress are aiming to win their fourth consecutive AfroBasket title and their sixth overall. They are also looking to qualify for the 2023 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, which will be held in Australia.

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