It was a tense, pulsating, yet thrilling end to the match at Santa Cruz de Tenerife as D’Tigress clinched a quarterfinal berth with the slimmest of margins in the quarterfinal qualifying fixture against Greece.
Despite Greece leading into the final 20 seconds of the game, Nigeria battled to the dramatic finish.
Three seconds to the end of the game, Elo Edema Edeferioka won an offensive rebound and drew a foul from Maria Fasoula. She comfortably scored the free-throws that followed and Nigeria got into the lead which they held on as the ‘long’ three seconds counted down.
Greece had possession in the final three seconds but frittered it away with a five seconds violation. In the final action of the game, Ezinne Kalu drew a foul with two seconds left of the game but she missed both free-throws and failed to extend the lead. It mattered very little as the buzzer blasted to signal the historic feat by the ladies. They became the first African team to reach the quarterfinal of the FIBA Women’s World Cup.
At the start of the fourth quarter, D’Tigress led with 48-37 but the Greeks scored 19 points to ensure a nervy end to the game.
The first quarter ended a 15-15 stalemate before Otis Hughley’s team won both the second and third quarters. Then, there was the fourth quarter with a manic denouement.
Evelyn Akhator scored her third double double of the tournament with 14 points and 13 rebounds while Ezinne Kalu had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Aisha Mohammed, who scored 12 points in the win over Argentina, missed the game due to an injury but her replacement Atonye Nyigifa impressed with her 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Nigeria will face the United States of America in the quarterfinal on Friday.