In 2017, Nkechi Akashili won the Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League with First Bank, gold at the 2017 Afrobasket in Mali with the D’Tigress, silver medal at the FIBA Africa 3×3 Championship in Togo and most recently, bronze medal at the FIBA Africa Women’s Champions Cup in Angola.
Akashili whose dream was to win the Afrobasket was full of joy during her chat with ACLSports. She described this year as a brilliant year for her career.
“The year 2017 was a great year for me especially the Afrobasket. It has been my dream to win the Afrobasket and my dream came through. Also, winning the league with First Bank, finishing third place in Angola and then 3 x 3. It’s been a great year for me.”
Nigeria National team basketball recorded great achievements in 2017 both for the men and women. The women’s national team, D’Tigress won the Afrobasket after their last win in 2005 while the men’s national team, D’Tigers got to the final but failed to defend their title in Tunisia.
The Sam Vincent-led D’Tigress team went unbeaten with 8-0 record beating host Mali in the semi-final and Africa power house, Senegal in the final. Three members of the First Bank Basketball Club made the Afrobasket winning squad, Upe Atosu, Chioma Udeaja and Nkechi Akashili.
The First Bank Basketball Club guard, attributed their third place finish at the 2017 FIBA Africa Women Champions Cup to collective errors made by the team in their semi final game against Clube Desportivo de Agosto.
Akashili said their best was not good enough against the Angolans in the semi final.
“We were not expecting to finish third we wanted to win the trophy just little errors stopped us. It’s not like the Angolans were better than us but our plans didn’t work against them. We need to work on it so as to win the trophy and I am sure we will win it,” Akashili emphasised.
“I was disappointed when we lost the semifinal, winning the third place was just a consolation. Basketball is a 5-man game on the court and we need to work more on ourselves for us to get to the final next year,” she said.
For the second year in row finishing third, Ms. Barbara Atinuke Harper, Group Head, Human Capital Management & Development hosted the basketball team to a dinner to commend their efforts.
Recently, First Bank coach Peter Ahmedu told ACLSports they weren’t hosted which Akashili believes the coach was referring to the Bank but revealed they were still hosted by one of First Bank’s top official.
“First Bank didn’t host us and they did the same last year. It was madam Barbara who on her own hosted us just to appreciate us. She invited us for a dinner to appreciate our achievement.
Akashili has no plans of relenting as she sees the 2018 World Cup in Spain a more demanding task.
“My target is to go to camp, play well so as to make the team. I am working on myself and training at the moment. It’s going to be big, some players you didn’t see at the Nations Cup will be in camp so it’s going to be a huge competition. I want to make the trip to Spain, that’s my target.”