Home » 2024 FIBA Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifier Tournaments: United States gets big win over Nigeria

2024 FIBA Women’s Basketball Olympic Qualifier Tournaments: United States gets big win over Nigeria

The United States’ women’s basketball team continued its winning ways, beating Nigeria 100-46 at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium, on Friday (9 Feb.) Every member of Team USA who played in the game scored, with Jewell Loyd leading scorers with 18 points. 

Loyd said the team talked after their win over Belgium on Thursday about what they wanted to focus on. This game was a chance for them to work on their teamwork.  

“We had a talk after the game; players just finding out what we want to work on, and how to communicate with each other better. It began today, at shoot around constantly just talking. You can’t ever over communicate. So for us, we’re making sure that we’re talking so first point, and then just being there for each other, and that’s something that definitely saw and felt today,” Loyd said. 

The Americans started to push the pace early in the second quarter, outscoring Nigeria 32-7. The half ended with Sabrina Ionescu hitting a buzzer-beating three, putting an exclamation point on a half that showed the depth of the U.S. team.  

Since they already secured a quota for Paris 2024 by winning the 2022 World Cup, the United States didn’t have the pressure to win a game. They are now 2-0 in this tournament, but more importantly, are getting to know each other. Though every member of the U.S. roster is on a WNBA team, and some have played together in the WNBA, college or in overseas play, they don’t get as many opportunities to play together.  

“We understand that we don’t get to do what a lot of countries get to do, and spend months together, specifically training for an event. So we understand how difficult it is, we all know each other but playing with one another is different. We did talk about that something that we pride ourselves in, and that we have to accelerate that process and we do that with communication and connection,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve. 

Nigeria aims to be ‘dauntless’

Nigeria beat Senegal on Thursday, so they are 1-1 in the tournament. They are the defending Afrobasket champions, and are still eligible to obtain a quota for Paris 2024, based on the results of the rest of the tournament’s games. For the D’Tigresses, these games were a chance for the team to grow stronger.  

Rena Wakama, the Nigerian coach, said earlier that the team chose the word “dauntless” to focus on as they prepared for the tournament. Though the U.S. had a strong start, she said she saw some dauntlessness in her team in the second half.  

“It shows that we have some fight and they can respond to some coaching. But you’ve got to do that from the tip. And sometimes when you get yourself in a hole it may be too late and that’s what happened,” Wakama said.  

The teams in Antwerp have Saturday off, then return to the court for the tournament’s finale on Sunday. The United States will face Senegal, while Nigeria will play against the host team, Belgium.  

*As National Olympic Committees have the exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games, athletes’ participation at the Paris Games depends on their NOC selecting them to represent their delegation at Paris 2024. *