Tokyo 2020: Minister showers encomiums on ‘fighting’ D’Tigress after loss to US

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Tokyo 2020: Minister showers encomiums on ‘fighting’ D’Tigress after loss to US

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Tokyo 2020: Minister showers encomiums on ‘fighting’ D’Tigress after loss to US by : 9:19 am On July 27, 2021

Nigeria cheers against United States of America during a Women’s Preliminary Round Group B game on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 27, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. Photo: AFP

Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has showered encomiums on the national women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, after they narrowly lost to the United States on Tuesday.

D’Tigress lost 81-72 to the United States in a Group B match played in Saitama. It was a brave performance from the African champions who were less than two weeks ago beaten by the US 93-62 in an exhibition game in Las Vegas.

Since losing in the quarterfinals at the Barcelona ‘92 Olympics, the US women have now gone 50 matches without defeat at the Olympics. But the six-time Olympic Games defending champions will be asking themselves how a D’Tigress side they defeated by 31 points less than a fortnight ago, came close to creating the greatest upset in Olympic women’s basketball history.

And Minister Dare was impressed by the way the African champions fought from start-to-finish at the Saitama Super Arena.

“I watched the game from the start to the end. Every moment,” said the Minister who was at the match venue. “I saw players who can fight and they fought.

The US led by 20 points at the end of the third quarter, using their size advantage to subdue the Nigerians.

But a fourth-quarter revival by D’Tigress saw the Nigerians reducing the deficit to five points at a stage in the contest before a late surge from the US rescued the day for the world champions.

“From 20 points disadvantage, I saw them climb back steadily, the height and built of the Americans notwithstanding,” said Dare, before expressing confidence about D’Tigress’ chances in their next game against France on Friday.

“The next game will be better. I trust them. They are like a family. Going up against the Americans like they did, our team is good and can be better.”

D’Tigress take on France, who lost 74-70 to Japan, on Friday in a game that, based on their performance against the US, could see the Nigerians record their first victory at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Olympics when a Nigerian side led by the legendary Mfon Udoka defeated South Korea 68-64.

Aisha Mohammed-Balarabe, who is in the current D’Tigress team, recorded a game-leading 13 rebounds in that match played 17 years ago in the Greek capital.

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