Nigeria’s D’Tigress to battle Belarus, South Korea for Olympics ticket

DTigressNigeria’s senior national women basketball team, D’Tigress has been drawn in Group C alongside Belarus and South Korea for the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).

In the competition’s official draw held at the headquarters of world basketball governing body FIBA in Mies, Switzerland on Tuesday, Africa’s other representatives, Cameroon, were drawn in Group B.

The WOQT which will hold in Nantes, France from June 13 to June 19 is the final level of qualifiers for the women’s basketball event of the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for August 5 to 21 in Rio, Brazil.

Qualifiers for the tournament were drawn from the continental championships, with Cameroon and Nigeria qualifying on the strength of finishing second and third respectively at the 2015 Afrobasket for Women.

Group A of the event has Cuba, New Zealand and France, while Group B has Cameroon, Turkey and Argentina. Group C has Belarus, South Korea and Nigeria, while Group D has Venezuela, Spain and China.

Nigeria will open their challenge against Belarus on June 13, before taking on South Korea on June 14. If they progress, they will take on either the Group D runners-up or winners in the quarter-finals on June 17, where success is a direct qualification for the Rio Games.

If the D’Tigress succeeds, it will be their first-ever Olympic appearance.

They will then be emulating their male counterparts, D’Tigers who qualified for their first-ever Olympics in 2012 from the OQT in Venezuela.

The draw for the men’s version of the tournament, Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), which will hold in three venues, was also held at the same venue on Tuesday in Switzerland.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers have already qualified for the Olympics by virtue of winning the 2015 Afrobasket for Men in Tunisia, and do not need to play in the qualifiers. But, Africa has three other representatives seeking Olympics tickets, with Angola in Group A in Serbia, Senegal in Group A in Philippines and Tunisia in Group B in Italy.

The Serbia event will hold July 4 to July 9 in Belgrade with Group A having Serbia, Angola and Puerto Rico and Group B having Japan, Czech Republic and Latvia. OQT Manila will hold in Philippines from July 5 to July 10, with Turkey, Senegal and Canada in Group A, and France, New Zealand and Philippines in Group B. OQT Turin in Italy will hold from July 4 to July 9, with Greece, Mexico and Iran in Group A, and Tunisia, Croatia and Italy in Group B.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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