D’tigress star Evelyn Akhator is optimistic that Nigeria can be among top basketball nations in the world considering the rapid development of the game in the country.
The last three years have great for the D’ tigress, winning back-to-back FIBA Women’s AfroBasket titles, competing at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018, and qualifying for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.
It has been a show of talent, mental toughness, and ultimately power so strong that they remain unbeaten in Africa since stepping on the court against Mozambique in their Group B opener on August 18, 2017, at the continental competition in Bamako, Mali.
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.”
“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 by God’s grace.”
“I see Nigeria getting to the top and becoming a Top 10 country in basketball. Nobody would have thought we would be a Top 20 team and now we are number 14 in the world. I only pray that we all achieve that dream of being top of the best very soon.”
Winning the last two editions of the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket has not only been about adding to Nigeria’s trophy cabinet of a total of four continental trophies – far from Senegal’s record 12 titles but also about making a statement that they are here to stay and conquer.
“It is really important especially the fact that basketball is not a popular sport in Nigeria as compared to Senegal. It was really important for Nigeria to be on the map again and be known worldwide. Now, teams are scared whenever they hear Nigeria women’s basketball team,” the Lagos native stated.
Akhator and her teammates have one year to prepare for the showdown as they try to conquer the world at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics next summer.
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