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Baby D’Tigress star hungry for success

ebefb bright eze

is one name the Ghanaian basketball faithful will not forget in a hurry, not after the trauma she made them pass through right in their own backyard.

Eze’s brilliant performances at the National U-16 Girls Basketball Tournament’ in Ghana in June suggested a genuine superstar in the making who will in no time make her mark on the global stage, reports.

Eze played a crucial role as Nigeria U-16 Women’s side pummelled hosts Ghana 73-24 at the FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifiers three months ago.

The Nigerian girls proved too good for their arch-rivals  with the teenager at the forefront of the onslaught on the Ghanaians, helping her side progress to the FIBA Africa U-16 Championships in Tunisia.

At just 16 years, the Baby D’Tigress star currently stands at 6ft2in, a big factor that influenced her decision to play basketball.

“The journey to playing basketball started four years ago when I was just 12,” she told PUNCH Sports Extra.

“I met my coach in church and he advised that I tried out basketball because of my height and truly I was the tallest in my class.”

A student of Community Senior Grammar School in Surulere, Lagos, the rising star, who currently plays for MFM, admits it’s been a tough journey but she remains optimistic she’ll make the cut at senior level.

“At the moment, I play for MFM and I can say that the journey has been tough but great. I believe I have what it takes to excel playing basketball,” she said.

“I train hard to achieve my goal and I am not going to back out on that because it has been a great experience for me.”

Helping Nigeria dominate Ghana from start to finish at Eden Heights in Accra was one of the many performances of the teen sensation, who hails from Ebonyi State.

The 16-year-old small forward recounted some of her biggest moments.

“I have attended several competitions and I must say that I have fond memories of them. The U-16 tournament in Ghana was a good one and I also played at the MFM and Sam Oguche competitions. I equally had a great moment at the NBA Academy camp.”

Every rising star has someone they look up to as a role model and for the teenager, Dallas Wings point guard, Arike Ogunbowale, is her idol.

“I look up to Ogunbowale because I’ve met her before and I have seen her play and I can tell you that she is very good.

“She inspires me a lot and I hope I can attain that height in no time.”

The dream of becoming a senior national team player and the journey to achieving that couldn’t have been more rosy for the youngster, who not only played for one of the best clubs in the country, MFM, but has already represented the country at junior level.

“The dream is to one day play basketball at the highest level and one day play for the country’s senior women team.”

Combining education and sports hasn’t been the strongest point of many a Nigerian athlete, but that’s not the case with Eze, who has everything working in her favour.

“Combining education and playing basketball has not been easy. For instance, now that the school is on break, I train both in the mornings and evenings but when school resumes next week I will train only in the evenings.

“My parents are in full support and they’ve never opposed my decision to play basketball.”

Speaking with , Charles Ibeziako, owner of Raptors Basketball Academy and the man who discovered Eze, spoke of the teenager’s attitude to the game.

“I discovered her in church and I spoke to her and her aunt that I wanted her to play basketball,” he said.

“The journey hasn’t been smooth because it took a lot of convincing for the aunt to allow her. Initially, she didn’t approve of her travelling but later she saw the desire in her and she eventually accepted the decision to allow her play basketball.

“Eze trained very well and she is focused. She trains in the mornings and evenings, which is why she is exceptional and she sets herself apart from others. It is one thing to have talent and it is another thing to train hard. She ticked all the boxes and I believe the sky is her starting point.”