Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗
YAOUNDE (Cameroon) – Twelve years after a FIBA Women’s AfroBasket lost Final at home, Mali’s quest for African domination has taken shape as they tussle for African basketball’s most prized asset against Nigeria on Sunday, September 26 in Yaounde.
The 2007 African champions scrapped a narrow 52-51 win over host Cameroon and will now turn their focus towards annihilating Nigeria’s quest of becoming only the second side to win a consecutive three AfroBaskets.
Both sides faced off in the Third-placed playoff of the Women’s AfroBasket 20211 in Bamako with Mali overpowering Nigeria 71-62.
Mali’s forward Kadidia Maiga is unperturbed by the caliber of opponent that awaits them stating: “All teams are equal and we trust in our chances at the final.”
Such optimism and grit is justified.
Mali are the third highest scoring side averaging 75.8 points and they top the rebounding chart with 54.5 boards per game.
Guard Djeneba Ndiaye ranks second on the scoring log with 16.8 points.
A contender for the MVP title, center Mariam Coulibaly has been a threat both on offense and defense, posting 11.3 points and picking up nine rebounds, the second best in the tournament.
Already Mali have improved on their performances in the past two AfroBaskets where they finished third but having come so close to glory, it’s unlikely Coach Joaquin Luis Brizuela will content himself with just finishing on the podium.
But having elegantly fought off a Cameroonian domination in the concluding stages of their Semi-Final clash, Malian fans may be concerned with the shape of the team against a Nigerian side that’s undefeated.
Can Mali stop “D’Tigress” is the question lovers of the game are asking.
The two-time defending champions are playing with instinctive fluency and the sort of flair that leaves diehards spellbound.
Nigeria discarded Senegal 73-63 to seal their spot in the Final.
Guard Ezinne Kalu was surprisingly silent against Senegal hitting home three points but there are little concerns in the final she’ll falter.
In 2019, she posted 13 points and five rebounds and has been consistent, scoring 15.3 points and 4.7 assists in Yaounde.
Nigeria finished first in Group B and their run to the Final has been void of any blemish.
When Senegal expected to be a true test, their mettle showed up, they lived up to the hype.
Veteran forward Adaora Elonu, who has been an integral part to Nigeria’s supremacy in the last five years, is still part of the set up.
With an efficiency of 13.3, she’s chipping in 10 points and 5.3 rebounds, bringing to the table as well her leadership qualities.
Nigeria’s aggressive defending could pose a serious worry to Mali as the side averages 5.8 blocks, the second best ratio in the tournament.
Nigeria’s coach Otis Hughley Jnr often smiles when he’s reminded that his side is the leading favorite.
A facial expression meant to downplay the seriousness of the statement but beneath his warm smile lies a fire, a common goal which he shares with his players, that of extending Nigeria’s supremacy on African basketball and inking their names in the annals of history.