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Joshua’s title reclaim, Ujiri’s NBA win, Brume’s leap — 10 major sports stories of 2019

Joshua’s title reclaim, Ujiri’s NBA win, Brume’s leap — 10 major sports stories of 2019
December 30
15:59 2019

Sometimes it’s the shame, sadness, and anger of losing out to rivals. Other times, the anxiety, pride and concomitant elation are evident. Whichever it is, emotions have always been integral to sports.

There’s no gainsaying that the 2019 sports scene has witnessed moments hysteria and scandals alike — giving way to pivotal achievements that tugged at our heartstrings and dominated talks across social media platforms in a firm grip.

Massai Ujiri, a Nigeria-born basketball manager, had finally defied the odds and saw the Raptors snag its historic win. Nigeria similarly made the ICC U-19 World Cup for 2020 after breaking a century-old jinx. Yet, there’s more.

As the year approaches it dawn, TheCable reinforces ten of the major sports moments that caught the attention of the general public in a frenzy while making the headlines.

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Ujiri’s Toronto Raptors and the historic NBA win

In June, Ujiri became the cynosure of all eyes after he led the Toronto Raptors to a historic National Basketball Association (NBA) championship in as many years.

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The Raptors, a Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto, emerged the champions after beating Golden State Warriors, the defending champions, in the best of seven NBA finals under Ujiri’s leadership.

They became the first team based in Canada to win an NBA title and also the first team outside the US to win the championship at their NBA finals debut in their 24th season.

Nigeria’s fierce UFC duo: Israel Adesanya and Usman Kamaru

UFC 243: Nigeria’s Adesanya beats Whittaker to become middleweight champion

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Israel Adesanya and Usman Kamaru, Nigeria’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, also had their share of attention in their various categories of the combat sports for the year 2019.

Adesanya, popularly called ‘style bender’, defeated homeboy, Robert Whittaker by KO to become the middleweight champion at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia.

He also established himself as one of the biggest stars in the game.

Usman, better known as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, also knocked out America’s Colby Covington to retain his UFC 245 title. He would later be ranked as number 8 in the UFC pound for pound ranking.

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U-19 Cricket team’s world cup qualification — after a century

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History was made in March when Team Nigeria secured a dramatic, first-ever spot in the ICC U-19 World Cup for 2020. This had come after the Nigerian team beat Sierra Leone on the final day of the Africa qualifying tournament in Namibia.

Set 139 to win, ‘Junior Yellow Green’, the country’s cricket team, endured a nervy chase and slipped to 87 for six at one point.

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But Peter Aho pulled off a “man of the match” performance and scored a priceless 21 not out to see them home.

The entire squad took to the field in jubilation as they confirmed their spot at their first-ever global tournament in 100 years.

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Amusan shattered Alozie’s 20-year record

In August, Tobi Amusan became the cynosure of all eyes in the track and field after she broke compatriot Gloria Alozie’s 20-year record by winning the women’s 100m hurdles at the 12th Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco.

The two-time African games champion won at a time of 12.68secs.

D’Tigers secured 2020 Olympics’ ticket

D’Tigers, the sobriquet of Nigeria’s basketball team, made the headlines of prominent newspapers after they qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games following an 86-73 win over China in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

The Nigerian team beat the 2019 FIBA World Cup host in their final classification game in Guangzhou to take Africa’s sole ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Super Eagles and AFCON 2019 Golden Bronze

The Super Eagles were bronze medal winners at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following their 1- 0 victory over Tunisia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt.

Following the win, Nigeria secured its eighth bronze medal in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Odion Ighalo got the goal in the third minute, making him the highest goal scorer of the competition with five goals.

Odunayo Adekuoroye shone at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships

Odunayo Adekuoroye defeated North Korea’s Sun Jong in the quarterfinal to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Although she later lost in the semifinal to Japan’s Risako Kawai, the 25-year-old made sure she didn’t leave the competition without a medal.

She was put up for the bronze medal against Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita, and she ended up beating her opponent 10-0.

Ese Brume won Nigeria’s 1st World Championships medal in six years

Dependable Ese Brume delivered when it mattered most, leaping to bronze on the final day of the 2019 World Championships. She jumped her best mark of 6.91m to ensure the country didn’t leave Doha without winning a medal.

With the feat, the former Commonwealth Games champion, would later become the first athlete in the past six years to win a medal for Nigeria at the championships, since Blessing Okagbare’s silver and bronze medals.

Anthony Joshua reclaims the WBA, IBO, IBF & WBO belts

Like Muhammed Ali, Anthony Joshua put on a superb display against Andy Ruiz Jr to regain the world heavyweight titles he lost in June at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on December 7.

Following the Mexican-American’s stunning upset six months earlier in New York, the British-Nigerian born activated an immediate rematch clause and boxed beautifully from start to finish in a masterclass performance to win back his World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Federation (WBF), International Boxing Organization (IBO) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) belts.

He also produced a boxing masterclass to regain his position as heavyweight king in front of the Saudi Sheikhs.

 “D’Tigress! D’Tigress!”

The 2019 Africa Women’s Basketball Championship marked Nigeria’s 12th appearance in the continental showpiece, and D’Tigress made sure it ended with a bang, beating Senegal in the finals to win their fourth title.

At the finals, Senegal threatened Nigeria’s perfect run by giving them their toughest competition but the D’Tigress pulled off a 60-55 scoreline at the end.

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