BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
After a day break on Thursday at the 18th edition of the Women’s basketball World Cup enters the quarter-finals stage on Friday in Tenerife, Spain.
Four matches involving eight teams are on the card. The Nigerian squad, D’Tigress at 34 is the least ranked of the final eight.
Paradoxically, the least ranked will be confronting the highest ranked, USA who are the world’s number one according to the FIBA official ranking presented by Nike.
With the Nigerian team recording its first ever win in the competition that dates back to 1953, a defeat of nine-time champion and World number one, USA, will mean a topple of the apple cart.
While the USA have been a recurring decimal in the previous 17 editions, this is just Nigeria’s second appearance after that of 2006 where the team came last among the 16 teams that participated.
In 2006, Nigeria had met the USA losing 46-79 to the eventual bronze medallists at the tournament that took place in Brazil.
In the current edition, the path to Sunday’s final match is tortuous for Nigeria. If they survive the world number one on Friday, they are more likely to face World number three, France, on Saturday in the semi-finals.
France as number 3 will be facing the number 27 ranked team, Belgium in Friday’s quarter-finals.
But considering the antecedents of D’Tigress so far in the tournament, it is not impossible for them to cause further upsets. All the teams they have met so far are higher in ranking.
While they are just number 34, they beat the seventh ranked Turkey, 15th ranked Argentina and the 20th ranked Greece.
Whatever the outcome in the game with the US, D’Tigress still have other matches as losers will feature in classification matches to get the fifth to eighth teams.
At the end of the whole exercise, they should rise in ranking.
RANKING OF THE QUARTER FINALISTS