Equipe du Mali Féminine

Can Sika Kone spark Mali into World Cup for first time in 12 years?

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LAS PALMAS (Spain) – Mali missed the last two editions of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, but Sika Kone feels her country has what it takes to return to the tournament later this year.

First, the former African champions will need to pass their FIBA Women’s Basketball Qualifying Tournament test, slated for next month in Belgrade, Serbia, where they will go up against Nigeria, France and China in Group B.

“WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN DURING THE GAME. MAY THE BEST TEAMS WIN.”– Sika Kone

To secure their return ticket to the World Cup, Mali will need to finish in the top three spots of their group.

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Can Kone spark Mali to Women’s World Cup for first time in 12 years?

“All those teams in the World Cup Qualifying Tournament are great teams, and that includes Mali, obviously,” Kone said in an exclusive interview with FIBA.basketball.

The Malians will tip off their Qualifying Tournament campaign against France, a team they last faced in the 2012 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara, Turkey. At the time the French dismantled Mali 87-33 in the Group Phase before securing a ticket to the 2012 London Games.

A defiant Kone, who was only eight-years-old when Mali last featured in the FIBA Women’s Basketball Cup in 2010 in Czech Republic, feels they can do better in Belgrade. “When the whistle blows anything can happen during the game. May the best teams win,” she noted.

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“Mali had some great players. We, [the new generation] look up to them. They all led us by example. Now it is our turn. We will try to do the same,” the 19-year-old said.

This year’s FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup will feature the world’s top 12 women’s national teams, with 38 games to be played across 10 days from September 22 – October 1, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.

Kone, who continues to rise in Mali basketball ranks, admits that it’s been too long since Mali appeared in the tournament.

It would be great to  be back [in the Women’s Basketball World Cup].”

“I was not even thinking about basketball when I was eight years of age. I did not even know what it was,” Kone revealed.

But, when she first made contact with basketball a few years later, her life was never the same again as she went to become one of Mali’s brightest talents.

From leading Mali to the 2017 FIBA U17 Women’s African Championship title in Mozambique, where she made it to the All-Tournament team, sparking her country to a tenth-place finish in the 2018 FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball in Minsk, to leading Mali to a historic fourth-place finish in the 2021 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball Cup, Kone became a valuable asset to Mali.

Silka Kone was selected to the 2021 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup alongside Caitlin Clark and Sonia Citron (USA), Jade Melbourne (Australia) and Julia Boros (Hungary)

In the Belarusian capital, Kone finished as one of three players with four double-doubles in seven games. She contributed a team-high 16.9 points and had 10.9 rebounds per game.

“First off, I would like to thank the Mali Basketball Federation and my team for the great team work,” said Kone, who currently plays for Spar Gran Canaria in Spain’s Liga Femenina Endesa.

Kone went on saying: “We are like a family,” said the 1.90M (6’2″) power forward. “I could not have accomplished all this without my teammates. History was made yes, and hard work always pays off.”


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