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D’Tigress to play France tomorrow



D’TIGRESS will play France on Friday, in a game that, based on their performance against the Americans, could see the Nigerians recording their first victory at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Olympics when a D’Tigress side led by the legendary Mfon Udoka defeated South Korea 68-64.

  Aisha Mohammed-Balarabe, who is one of the centres in the current D’Tigress team, recorded a game-leading 13 rebounds in that match played 17 years ago. They will need the win to boost the morale of the team.

  D’Tigress, on Tuesday lost 81-72 to the United States in their Olympic Games opener in Saitama.

  It was a brave performance from the African champions who were recently beaten by these same Americans 93-62 in an exhibition game in Las Vegas.

  Since losing in the quarterfinals of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the US women have dominated the opposition. Before Tuesday’s game against Nigeria, the Americans have taken the court at the Olympic Games 49 times, and 49 times, they’ve left the floor as winners.

  That impressive record is now 50 wins in a row, but they will be asking themselves how a team they defeated by 31 points less than two weeks ago, came close to creating the greatest upset in Olympic women’s basketball history. The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who deemed it fit to watch virtually every game of Team Nigeria in Tokyo, offered some encouraging words to the D’Tigress team after the resilient Team USA beat them in the women’s basketball event at the Olympics.

  Although the Nigerians lost the match, Minister Dare was full of praise for the team. “I watched the game from the start to the end. Every moment. I saw players who can fight and they fought,” Dare said after the game. “From 20 points disadvantage, I saw them climb back steadily.

  “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”

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