AfroBasket MVP award thrills Okonkwo


By Ebenezer Bajela

D’Tigress forward Amy Okonkwo feels honoured after being named the Most Valuable Player of the just-concluded 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket, The PUNCH reports.
Okonkwo played a huge role in helping Nigeria clinch the Women’s AfroBasket title after beating Senegal 84-74 in the final on Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda.
The victory means Nigeria became the second team to win four FIBA Women’s AfroBasket titles in a row.
Okonkwo headlined the All-Star Tournament team alongside Cierra Dillard (Senegal), Jannon Otto (Uganda), Sika Kone (Mali), and Tamara Seda (Mozambique).
Throughout Nigeria’s unbeaten run (5-0) in the Rwandan capital Kigali, Okonkwo emerged as the heart and soul of D’Tigress, averaging a team-high of 17.2 points while contributing 8.2 rebounds per game.
Along the way, she became the only Nigerian to register two double-doubles (Murjanatu Musa registered one).
Reacting to her MVP awards, the 26-year-old said, “We have a coach that believes in us. It has us fighting till the end, even in adversity.
“So, we knew we had our destiny in our hands. Even when Senegal came back, we knew we had to step up, to keep together and we made it happen. I was playing in Mexico this summer, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to come and lead. And I had the opportunity to lead the team.
“I told myself that I was not coming to Kigali to lose anything. And being MVP is a huge honour.”
Nigeria’s success also meant Rena Wakama became the first female head coach to win a Women’s AfroBasket title.
“Against Mozambique, we were down by 10 or 12 points. I looked into their eyes, and they told me: “Coach, we’re not going to lose this game..”.. And they came back to win,” the coach said.
“That was the defining moment for me. It has been a long year for me. I asked God for a sign, and this trophy was the biggest of them all.”
D’Tigress’ sixth continental title comes exactly 20 years after their very first African conquest in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.