FIBA Women’s Afrobasket: Kalu named MVP, leads tournament’s top five line-up

FIBA Women’s Afrobasket: Kalu named MVP, leads tournament’s top five line-up

Ezinne Kalu has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket after leading Nigeria to back-to-back continental titles on Sunday in Dakar.

In addition, Kalu headlined the All-Tournament team. She made the top five line-up alongside alongside her teammate Evelyn Akhator. Also in the line-up are Mali’s Touty Gandega, Senegal’s Astou Traore and Leia Dongue of Mozambique.

The eye-catching Kalu contributed 13 points and an all-round excellent display as Nigeria beat Senegal 60-55 in the final. Kalu averaged 13 points and a team-high three assists in five games. This tournament marks her second FIBA Women’s AfroBasket appearance.

The 27-year-old point-guard was phenomenal throughout the eight-day tournament in Dakar, Senegal. She consistently came up with incredible plays for the two-time defending champions.

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FIBA Women's Afrobasket

 

Kalu narrowly edged out her teammate Evelyn Akhator for the MVP Award. Akhator also played a crucial role in helping Nigeria defend the title. She averaged 11 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Nevertheless, Akhator made it to the Tournament Five as fitting reward for her efforts.

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Indeed, Friday’s 79-58 semifinal win against Mali was when Kalu reiterated her MVP credentials. She netted five of her 10 three-points attempts to finish with a game-best 19 points.

Nigeria become the first team to win back-to-back FIBA Women’s AfroBasket titles since Angola did it in 2013. Also, the team became the second team after Senegal to twice defend an African women’s basketball title. Nigeria won it in 2003 in Mozambique and defended the title in Abuja in 2005. Again, the team won in Bamako, Mali in 2017 and defended the title in 2019.

Since Kalu made her debut for Nigeria at the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the point guard has been instrumental to Nigeria’s success on the court.

The side will be expecting more of Kalu’s magic when they take part in the pre-qualifiers for the 2020 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifiers. The qualifiers are scheduled to take place in November.

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