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An African film stars at the 2024 NBA All Star Weekend, Nigeria’s women’s team heading to Paris, upsets in Afrobaskets qualifiers

NIGERIA’S national basketball team, D’Tigress are headed to the 2024 Olympic Games, Kenyan film-maker Becky Muikia introduces her short film at the NBA Africa All-Star Luncheon, while Cote D’Ivoire, Tunisia and Cape Verde all finish FIBA 2025 Afrobasket Pre-Qualifiers with unbeaten runs.

NIGERIA’S D’Tigress booked their ticket to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris despite losing 2 of their 3 games in a qualifying round that included the USA, Belgium, and Senegal.

D’Tigress started the tournament with a 4th-quarter comeback win against Senegal, finishing 72-65. The crucial victory saw the Nigerian squad trail Senegal all the way to the 4th quarter until an 11-0 run allowed them to grab the lead and keep it. Amy Okonkwo, the 2023 Afrobasket MVP, was largely responsible for the success of the D’Tigress outing.

Despite losing their subsequent games and USA (46-100) and Belgium (61-78), Nigeria was able to finish top three out of the four countries, squeezing onto the bus to Paris after Belgium defeated Senegal,

This year’s NBA All-Star weekend took place in Indianapolis, with top African stars and personalities in attendance. As has become usual, the annual Africa All-Star Luncheon brought together leaders from business, entertainment, philanthropy, sports, social entrepreneurship, technology, and youth development to celebrate the NBA and Basketball Africa League’s (BAL) expansion in Africa. This year’s event also saw the release of Kenyan creative director Becky Muikia’s short film “Jumping for Change”.

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The film was inspired by a group of girls who play basketball in Samburu. The girls decided to use basketball to defy societal pressure on them to accept the traditional, outlawed practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Using the game to achieve their dream, they also raised wider awareness that sport can be a transformational tool in society – something the filmmaker believes needs to happen more often, with film amplifying their message.

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“We wanted the girls to come up as allies in this particular film because, even with FGM, the more allies we have the more we will be able to bring out stories of early marriages which have remained dominant in this community for donkeys years,” Muikia shared in Indianapolis.

“The more collaborators we have with various stakeholders, NBA being one of them, the more we have the opportunity to tell our stories and even to speak up (about) norms that we want to speak of beyond sports stories with a deeper meaning.”

Over in North Africa, the FIBA Afrobasket 2025 pre-qualifiers saw the first window open in Tunisia and Egypt from February 23-25. With 12 teams participating and only 9 spots available, the men fought hard for a chance to play in Africa’s top tournament featuring national teams.

Basketball juggernauts like Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Cape Verde, and Tunisia enjoyed unbeaten runs heading into the last day when fans were treated to some surprises. Kenya defeated Guinea on the final day, while Madagascar made history by winning their country’s first-ever Afrobasket Qualifiers match against Central Africa Republic (CAF). CAF join Nigeria and Guinea in heading to the next phase on 0-3. The next round of qualifiers takes place on November 22-24.

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By SILALEI SHANI, BIRD STORY AGENCY

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