Coach of D’Tigress, Sam Vincent, said on Monday that winning the 2017 Afrobasket Championship in Mali was an exciting welcome back gift for him.
Vincent told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview from Bamako, Mali, that winning the championship was a dream come through for him.
“It’s been 14 years since I last won it with Nigeria; it’s an exciting feeling to come back and win gold again, it is just fantastic.
“This victory is sweeter because I am a little older; it is an amazing journey working with these ladies,’’ Vincent said.
The coach said that the technical crew would look at the team’s area of weakness and improve on it ahead of the World Cup slated for Spain in 2018
Vincent led Nigeria to win the championships in the 2003 and 2005 editions.
The assistant captain of the team, Ezinne Kalu also expressed her delight in being part of the winning team.
“It feels so good, it’s my first Afrobasket championship and to be a champion in my first outing is incredible.
“I am happy for myself and my team mates; and I am very excited we are going to the world championship,’’ she said.
Femi Adefeso, a basketball commentator and an analyst who was in Mali, commended the team for its sterling performance at the championship.
He, however, told NAN that the team needed to be more aggressive by fortifying its guard and centre positions for it to do well in the forthcoming world championship.
“Nigeria has the best team in the tournament, though the team did not really hit full gear at the beginning of the championship.
“But they have the potential, winning all their matches in the competition. The tournament was unprecedented and it showed that the Nigerian team was a great team.
“Technically, the girls were sound, but they will need to get a bit more aggressive at the world level to excel.
“The coach will need to fortify the guard and centre positions to be able to have enough depth to compete favourably at the world cup in Spain,’’ he said.
The manager of the team, Mfon Udoka, said that the coach would scout for taller forward and centre players as the team prepares for the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
She said that the average height of the D’Tigress players in Mali was 5’11”.
“Other teams like Senegal, Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo players had an average height of 6’0.
“The coaches can scout for taller forward and centre players as part of the build-up programme ahead of the 2018 FIBA World Cup,” Udoka said.
Nigeria defeated Senegal by 65points to 48 points to emerge the overall winners of the 2017 FIBA Women’s Afrobasket Championship in Bamako, Mali on Sunday.
D’ Tigress had earlier beaten the host, Mali 48-47 in the semi-final on Saturday; to secure one of the two FIBA World Cup tickets available to Africa in Spain.