By Idris Adesina
Nigeria start their 2018 FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup campaign against Australia in Tenerife, Spain, on Saturday.
The tournament, which features 16 countries, ends on September 30. Africa’s other representatives are Senegal.
D’Tigress, who are making a return to the World Cup for the first time since 2006, are ranked 34th in the FIBA world rankings while Australia are fourth in the rankings.
Turkey face Argentina in the other Group B tie.
According to FIBA statistics, both countries have no history of previous meeting ahead of Saturday’s clash. Also, no African side have qualified from the group stage of the competition and no African team have recorded a win in the World Cup.
Against Australia, Nigeria will aim to make history as the first African team to win a World Cup match and also record their first victory on the world stage.
D’Tigress coach Otis Hughley said his team are ready to confront any opposition.
He said, “We were born ready for this. There is no point in coming to events like this just to add to the numbers. We have done what we need to do within the time allowed for training and the general consensus in the team is that we are good to go.”
Captain Adaora Elonu said the team are not under pressure ahead of the match.
“We can’t thank the federation enough for this level of preparations. I have been around the national team set up for a while and I can confidently say this is the first time we’ve had this type of preparation,” she said in a statement from the Nigeria Basketball Federation on Friday.
Besiktas of Turkey player Evelyn Ahkator said, “In 2017, nobody believed we could win the AfroBasket in Mali. It is our time to prove to the world that Nigeria are not push overs.”
In other matches on Saturday, Spain face Japan in Group C while Puerto Rico lock horns with Belgium in the other match in the group. Latvia and China play the first match in Group D while USA play Senegal in the other Group D match. In Group A, Greece face Canada and Korea face France.