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Nigeria's Nyingifa: ''I expect our team to sweat and give the World Cup our best shot''
LAGOS (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Nigeria find themselves in a tough Group B that has been described as the 'Group of Death 'given the rankings of Australia, Argentina and Turkey, but the Spanish-based Atonye Nyingifa is unfazed.
In fact, Nyingifa sees the underdog tag on Nigeria at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 as one that does not put pressure on the team - unlike the highly ranked nations that would be out to protect their rating at all cost.
"We definitely might be among the lower rated teams but I do not look at ratings because it is all about who brings what into the game on a given day," the 28-year-old told FIBA.basketball.
"Basketball is a game of runs so whosoever brings the hardest of passion that day is going to be the winner, so ratings do not mean anything to our team but we do know that we are in one of the hardest Group.
"NIGERIA IS KNOWN FOR BEING PHYSICAL AND WE ALSO RUN. EUROPEAN TEAMS ARE KNOWN FOR SHOOTING AND SPACING OUT, BUT WE RUN AND BRING STRENGTH, I FEEL THIS IS GOING TO MAKE THINGS BETTER US"
The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup will run from September 22-31 in Tenerife, and the 5ft11in (1.80m) Small Forward who plies her trade with Spanish side Duran Maquinaria Ensino said that it feels good playing on a familiar terrain.
"This is my first year in Spain. Previously I was in Israel for four years, so I am very excited to play here, my teammates would also be there, so it is a good introduction for me.
"As you know, Spain national team is also participating in the World Cup, so getting support largely depends on who we are playing against. If we are not playing against them, hopefully, they can cheer us up but if we are up against Spain, we would be playing against some of our team mates," the Los Angeles native pointed out.
Last year Nyingifa helped Nigeria claimed their third FIBA Women's AfroBasket title. The former UCLA standout contributed 11 points and 4 rebounds in the title game against Senegal.
Though, the Women's World Cup is a big stage, she refuses to be scared of the oppositions and states clearly that Nigeria as a team comes for every game with something different.
"I won’t say scared. Nigeria is known for being physical and we also run. European teams are known for shooting and spacing out, but we run and bring strength, I feel this is going to make things better us.
"I think our team is blending to the change very well, and the new coach is doing a great job in getting us adequately prepared. As a player, I expect our team to come out, work hard every day, put on our jerseys, sweat and give the World Cup our best shot," she explained.
Giving reasons why she chose to play for Nigeria instead of the USA, Nyingifa maintains that she is Nigerian blood in and out.
"It is my second nature to represent my country, I have been doing it for a very long time and now I am playing for the team. I have always been representing Nigeria. I can tell you that the feeling of going to the World Cup is amazing. It is something that myriads of people have not done, so to be amongst the few to do it is a great feeling," she concluded.