D’Tigress forward, Evelyn Akhator believes having played against the United States at the 2018 World Cup, the American side would not look down on the Nigerian team when both sides clash at the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month in Belgrade.
The 24-year-old who plies her trade in the French league for Flammes Carolo told NationSport that D’Tigress is sure to pick a ticket to Tokyo.
“We played against the United States at the World Cup in 2018, but they never expected we could put on a show; though it lasted only a quarter, I’m sure we have sent a message and they won’t take us lightly anymore,” Akhator said.
She, however, admitted that it would be tough for the team in Belgrade but said that the team is poised to return to the big stage in Tokyo after their last appearance at Athens 2004.
“I won’t say I’m fully ready because it’s a team sport and we want to go there and achieve our goal. We have to work as a team which includes practising together; luckily for us, we have a few days to practice together before the jump ball.
“My only expectation is to secure a ticket to the Olympics. I don’t know how it’s going to happen but I know we can do it as a team, God’s willing,” she said.
She added: “Every team that qualified for the qualifiers have a big chance of making it to the Olympics but it’s all about who wants it more. Though we have a better chance of making it, we have to go and get it. We have to want it more because nothing is giving for free; if it’s free then it’s not worth it.
Akhator said that playing at the Olympic Games would be an exciting moment. “Playing at the Olympic will be a great achievement for me as a national team player. It is every athlete’s goal to play at that stage where you get to see other athletes, other than the sport you play, gather together to compete. It’s a great feeling for me that will be in my heart forever,” she enthused.