By Ebenezer Bajela
Despite losing two of their three games at the recently concluded FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, D’Tigress star, Sarah Ogoke, insists the women’s national basketball team is a force to reckon with, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
D’Tigress qualified for the women’s basketball event of the 2024 Olympics in Paris after picking up a win in Antwerp.
Ogoke and her teammates worked hard to seal a 72-65 win over Senegal in their opening game of the qualifying tournament in what proved to be a typical dust-up between both nations.
Rena Wakama’s team then suffered a 100-46 heavy defeat to world champions, the USA, on Friday but their Olympic qualification was confirmed hours later after Belgium defeated Senegal.
In their last game against hosts Belgium on Sunday, the African champions lost 78-61 to the reigning European champions.
Ogoke missed out on the game against Belgium after she was excused to be with her father, who is battling cancer.
“My father has been ill for a while and that is why I am so happy to have won this game at this tournament. There are a lot of people who are battling cancer out there and it is a tough fight, but anything is possible,” the veteran guard said after the game against Senegal.
“It’s not easy being away from him at all. But that is part of the game. Regardless of what is going on in the outside world, you have to find a way to get things done.”
Though missing from the final game, Ogoke monitored the game and was left impressed with the team’s resilience after their performance in the third quarter saw them stage a comeback with eight consecutive points.
“My heart is full and I am so proud of how D’Tigress fought against the Belgium cats,” she said.
“Watching them apply pressure, scramble, rebound and hit tough shots uplifted my spirit as I watched the match on the plane back home to be by my father’s bedside.
“We are a force to be reckoned with and we will build off of this.”
D’Tigress have qualified for the Olympic Games for the third time, having also competed at the Athens 2004 and Tokyo 2020 editions of the tournament.
The 2024 Olympics is billed for July 26–August 11 in Paris.