D’Tigress guard, Ezinne Kalu displayed an electrifying performance on Sunday as she led the team to a 75-71 win over Raptors Basketball Academy at the Indoor sports Hall, National Stadium Lagos.
Dtigress who couldn’t cope with the physicality of their male opponents in the first half, trailed in the first quarter 5-14 but reduced the deficit going to the break 26-32.
They got back to business in the third with Kalu looking more decisive and assertive as Dtigress came out attacking better than they did in the first half.
With 3 minutes remaining, the Dtigress had built an 8-point lead which seems insurmountable for the Raptors.
”Defense is the best part of my game. I love it, and that’s how my offense comes. When I get hot on defense everything just follows. I like to help my friends on defense and that’s the best part of the game,”Kalu explained
Kalu told ACLSports they had to prove the crowd wrong by beating their male opponents.
“It was very intense and we came out focused. We wanted to win so bad and that’s what dropped our focus. A lot of people thought we couldn’t beat the guys because they were so strong and big. I am pretty sure we proved everybody wrong today.”
“We tried to use our speed and as much strength as we can. We have so many girls on the bench so we had to play hard since we have fresh bodies that would come into the game. Our coach said we should just go and push as hard as we can and not worry about getting tired because our teammates will come in to help.
Kalu believes playing against male counterparts will help the team play hard against tough opponents in Spain.
“So far it’s the most difficult warm game we have played. The friendly will help us go into the world cup to play hard and intensity, trust each other do all we can, play strong and hope for the best.”
“My expectation is the gold medal,” she concluded.
After the game, D’Tigress head coach Otis Hughley was proud of his team’s performance.
“The girls played hard against the kids that were long, athletic and that will help us to play against big, strong and faster people. They have two young guys so we were able to use our experience to get in good position. I think they were ready for physicality from the boys. I was not surprised but happy about it. We keep getting better, we need to film and correct our mistakes.”
The 2018 FIba Women’s World Cup begins on September 22 in Tenerife, Spain.
Additional reporting by Izu Akawor