D'Tigress celebrate winning a 4th consecutive title in Kigali. Photo Credit" @afrobasketwomen

There is no undermining the previous three consecutive Afrobasket conquests, but there’s something special about Nigeria’s D’Tigress winning a 4th straight title; an epochal triumph that was clearly written in the stars, one that would be talked even in bedtime stories.

Nigeria surmounted a resolute Senegal side , the only team prior to their match to have won a 4-peat Afrobasket titles. It was the toughest game Nigeria had face in their one week in Kigali, but emerged unscathed beating Senegal by 84-74 points to win their 4th title in a row.

Prior to the commencement of the Afrobasket championships, there was an uncertainty over Nigeria’s ability to successfully retain their title. They had hurriedly assembled a team, also had a rookie manager who had been untested on the biggest stage.

By the time the Afrobasket title was hoisted up aloft at the BK Arena, not many people were recollecting how the team got there. It’s not that it mattered at the time, Nigeria had something to cheer about, particularly to act as some sort of closure for the pains of 2022. D’Tigress had to watch their World Cup ticket passed on to Mali, in a scene not everyone could recover from.

A lot of administrative interference coming off the court, have not helped the team, and it was as if Nigeria was making a rod for its back, pressing the self destruct button to dismantle what had taken aeons to cobble together.

Nigeria disbanded its triumphant team that has been together since 2017, and had to let go of the successful Otis Hughley who had been the thread that sewed the team together. In fact there are reports that he was not the one who voluntarily resigned from his post, he was more or less pushed out.

So if Nigeria was calling for a tryout to select a team to Rwanda, it was an ominous they were setting themselves up to fail. It was also insulting to some of the players who have heralded successes for the team in the last seven years, watching the Nigerian Basketball Federation ask them to come and prove themselves in a trial if they wanted to be on the plane to Kigali.

In what might look like a vindication for the NBBF, some of the outstanding players from this tournament: Murjanatu Musa and Ifunanya Okoro were drawn from these trials, Musa plays for Air Warriors in Nigeria, while Okoro was recently signed by Kenyan Ports club.

Coach Wakama had to a lot prove, and there were doubts how this team would fare under her leadership, and game after game, she stamped her footprint, making the team play the way she wanted them to.

Amy Okonkwo had the liberty to shoot outside the perimeter, and it was not surprising she ended the tournament as the MVP, playing the most minutes by any of her teammates. In the final, Okonkwo made 14pts and 8rebs, and while it might not be as lofty as the game against Egypt where she made 29pts and 13rebs, she had been a consistent performer throughout the tournament, hitting the double-double thrice and was pivotal in a very tough quarterfinal match against Mozambique, which they won with 7pts.

Sarah Ogoke showed great leadership leading the team, being the oldest player, and the only one to have been on the roster since 2015. Her performance in the final helped the girls navigate through a Senegalese team playing with pride. They wanted to stop Nigeria from matching their record, and they went about it with gusto, playing a blinding 3rd quarter to out-shoot Nigeria 26-19.

Senegal cut the deficit to 3pts, and had the momentum, but when Elizabeth Balogun sunk in a 3pt in the 4th quarter, doubt crept into the minds of the Senegalese, and Nigeria took full advantage.
The Mozambique in the quarterfinal was tough, but the final was even tougher, and Senegal made it extremely difficult, with Nigeria have to sweat hard for the triumph.

Nigeria with its triumph in Kigali, went on a 24-0 winning streak playing at the Afrobasket championships, becoming only the second team after Senegal to win four consecutive titles.

With the Olympics just one year away, it is expected that coach Wakama would continue moulding this beautiful thing she is crafting with D’Tigress; hopefully no administrative egghead will snuff out their joy by withdrawing the team from the Paris Olympics pre-qualifiers that they have already qualified for.


Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.


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