2018 World Cup: Nigeria ready for USA challenge

Nigeria face defending champions USA in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIBA Women’ s World Basketball Cup in Spain on Friday.

D’ Tigress reached the quarter-finals after beating Turkey and Argentina in Group B to finish second behind Australia . They also narrowly beat Greece in the quarter- final qualifiers on Wednesday.

But the USA have been unbeaten in the competition as they got all three wins to top Group D to hit the quarter-finals.

According to FIBA statistics , both countries have only met once in the history of the competition – at the 2006 edition, which was the last for Nigeria before 2018. The Americans routed the Africans 79-46 in the encounter.

The Americans lead the World Cup in points ( 96. 3 points per game) , assists ( 26 per game) , field goal percentage ( 52. 1 per cent) and free throws ( 86. 4 per cent) . The USA have six players averaging double figures per game – Breanna Stewart , A’ Ja Wilson, Tina Charles , Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne .

However, Nigeria rely on former WNBA star Evelyn Akhator , Sarah Ogoke , Atonye Nyingifa and Promise Amukamara to stage an upset against the world champions .

D’ Tigress guard Nyingifa said the match would be tough .

“ We know they will come out hard and tough against us – setting their best foot forward . They have a lot of tall players in their team , they have players with great speed and they are the favourites to win the title , ” she said .

“ But we will not let that deter us as we are going out there to give our best and play our hearts out against them . We will do what we have been doing in the past three games – which has been to stay together and play with determination and unity . We want to go as far as we can and we strongly believe we can achieve it. ”

Besiktas of Turkey forward Akhator said , “ We were not given a chance to come this far ( reaching the quarter -finals) but we are here . We believe we can beat the USA after we have beaten some teams in the top 20 in the world .

“ Basketball is beyond what each team has in firepower rather it has included a dint of luck after hard work and determination. We are not looking down on ourselves. We are going out there to face the US and beat them by God ’ s grace. ”

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