D’Tigress may be heading into a storm in Spain…

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The Nigerian women basketball team, D’Tigress, will tip off their participation at the 2018 FIBA Women World Cup against Australia on Saturday, 22nd September, and play their final group game on Tuesday 25th against Argentina. It will not be an easy ride for the team, and here are the things that will likely cost them a successful tournament…

They face a dangerous opponent in Australia. The Opals are one of just four nations to have won the FIBA Women Championship. The others are the United States, Russia and Brazil. The Aussies were the last nation to win it, other than the United States. As if that is not scary enough, they will be playing against one of the best players in the world, when they take the floor against the Opals…

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Cambage is a one-man demolition squad. And the toughest part to digest is that she is half-Nigerian. The 6 foot 8 inches Dallas Wing center is one the few women in world basketball that can comfortably dunk the rock. She is the 2018 scoring champion in the WNBA, as she averaged 23.0 points per game. She also holds the record for most points scored in a WNBA game with 53 points, which she dumped on New York Liberty on July 17, 2018. The very next game, she scored 35 points against Washington Mystics, making those two, the games with the highest points total for an individual in WNBA history. That is what D’Tigress will have to contend with on Saturday.

Preparations have not been excellent, despite the hype. Forget about the “slapping incident” in Atlanta, that is just one incident. There are other, deeper, issues. Players thrive when their rest period is optimized and they are emotionally stable; especially women. The logistics of this team has been patchy at most – from Atlanta, to Lagos, to Abuja, to Turkey, has really not been top-notch, and we don’t know how much the events around the team, has affected them. All this may show on the floor.

The other two teams are ranked higher, have prepared better. Nigeria is the lowest ranked team in their group. And although Adaora Elonu, the team captain of D’Tigress has said the ranking doesn’t matter, Nigeria did get pummelled by Turkey in an exhibition game just days ago. And Argentina, as ‘weak’ as they might seem, have played together for longer, and will be better organized, even though they remain the best chance of D’Tigress getting a win.

Having said all that, the Opals are missing two key players, Argentina don’t score enough, Turkey may be over-confident following their win in the friendly game, and Nigeria will have the pleasure of having Elonu and Evelyn Akhator firing on all cylinders, those two are game-changers, and give the team some hope.

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