Everyone who watched the final game of the 2019 FIBA Women’s Afrobasket can attest to the fact that it was a memorable game. The Nigerian women’s basketball team - DTigress, were hoping to defend their title having won the 2015 tournament while the host nation, Senegal, wanted to win in front of their home crowd.
Promise Amukamara shared her experience during her Instagram Live session with the NBBF.
“That was definitely a game to remember. Their fans were great, very loud. So many people were inside, and so many people were outside trying to get in. The environment was unbelievable...i mean...it was a great environment to play in.”
With 15,000 fans in the Dakar Arena, the crowd broke the record of the biggest crowd in African basketball. The previous record was 11,500.
Being her first Afrobasket final, Amukamara had asked Ezinne Kalu what it was like playing in the Afrobasket.
“She was like ‘it’s the hardest championship you’ll ever play in’. She said it’s very physical, hard and the refs are not going to call the regular fouls. So you’ve got to play through it”
Having experienced what it’s like playing in Africa and the hurdles that come with it, the veterans on the team and members of the coaching crew tried to prepare the new players mentally.
“Aisha who is veteran told us they’re going to try to get into your head, so we should just stay focused. ‘Don’t do nothing, just stay focused’. The coach told us not to worry about what was happening outside the game.”
Despite all the warnings, the preparations - physically and mentally, Amukamara still recalls the ordeal the team went through. To her, it was plain crazy.
“But what we went through was kind of crazy. We had fans throwing stuffs at us. I remember going into the locker room at halftime, and someone threw salt in my eye..some sandy stuff in my eye. You know, just to get into our head and distract us from our goal which was winning the championship. Yeah, the fans were crazy. I have never seen something like that before. It was really unbelievable.
”Whenever we had timeout or anything, whenever we gathered around listening to the coach, some fans will come to move our bench, throw sand on the floor. It was crazy. And the security guards who were there didn’t do nothing. It was very strange and crazy”
This perhaps made the victory sweeter as DTigress won 60-55, and Ezinne Kalu was named Most Valuable Player.
Image - FIBA