D’Tigress’ Head Coach, Otis Hughley has called up 14 players for the last phase of preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Qualification Tournament.
Louisville University guard, Elizabeth Balogun, who was not released by her school for the pre-OQT, got another invitation from the D’Tigress handler alongside Nigeria-based Musa Murjanantu, who emerged as the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League Most Valuable Player after guiding Air Warriors of Abuja to their first ever league title.
Virtus Eirene of Italy small forward, Ifunanya Ibekwe, Promise Amukamara (Charnay Basket Bourgogne SUD, France), Sarah Imovbioh (Basket Namur Capitale, Belgium) and Spain-based Elo Edeferioka, who plies her trade with CB Vigo, have also earned a recall.
Others include point-guard, Upe Atosu, currently studying and playing for Butler University in the United States of America.
Pallas Kunaiyi Akpannah may be on course to continue building her fledging national team career after debuting for Nigeria at the pre-qualifiers in Maputo, Mozambique in November while usual suspects Ezinne Kalu, Evelyn Akhator, Aisha Balarabe and team captain, Adaora Elonu have all been included in the 14 man list.
Nigeria is grouped alongside host- Serbia, world champions, U.S. and Mozambique with two Olympics tickets up for grab.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has announced that the D’Tigress camp will open on February 1 in Serbia ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying championship taking place in Belgrade from February 7 to 9 next year.
NBBF vice president, Babs Ogunade told The Guardian yesterday that the federation decided to ensure the girls began preparations early to enable them train well for the championship.
“Most of the girls invited will be busy with their various club engagements in January and February, but the NBBF is working hard to make sure they are released early enough to start preparations for the Olympic qualifiers.
“There is no pressure on the team. We are playing against world champions U.SA, Serbia and Mozambique and D’Tigress will approach every game with total commitment. Everyone knows America is the favourites to excel in the qualifiers, but this will not stop the Nigerian girls from giving their best.
“It is a qualifier and every team has equal chances to excel. While in Serbia the girls will play series of tune up games to keep them in top form,” he said.