Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗
ANGERS (France) – Mali are the undisputed African Basketball princesses winning 13 trophies combined at U16 and U18 levels but have only managed one senior title at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket in 2007.
The question on everyone's lips has been, what happens to these players who courtesy of winning the continental tournaments qualify and eventually play at the subsequent FIBA World Cups?
At the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019 in Dakar, youngsters Rokia Doumbia, kadidia maiga and Assetou Diakite were included in the roster with their performances largely indicative of a trio that has the knack to contest for the continental title.
Their flair, attention to detail and commitment to being part of a winning team laid a foundation for future engagements and as Mali continue to rebuild their team with newer faces, they will need the guidance of more experienced players like point Touty Gandega and meiya Tirera who has since been convinced to overturn her retirement.
“WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WINNING THE TROPHY. THIS IS WHAT WE ALL WANT. IT WILL NOT BE EASY LIKE ALWAYS BECAUSE WE WANT ALL THE SAME THING BUT WE WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING BIG WITH THIS TEAM SO EVEN IF IT WILL BE VERY HARD, I BELIEVE IN MY TEAM.”
Mali have automatically qualified for this year's edition of the FIBA Women's AfroBasket thanks to reaching the Semi-Finals two years ago along with Mozambique, Senegal and defending champions Nigeria.
As was the case for the past two editions, the above trio are expected to still be Mali's biggest opponents as former giants Angola, Cameroon and newbies Egypt look to break into the elite four of the tournament.
For Mali, to stay alive in the contest, they will have to depend on experience and their hunger to win trophies and write their own story to achieve their objective.
France-born Gandega believes that they have what it takes to conquer at the continental level. Her own individual performances will be very key for the Malians if they are to advance to the business end of the tournament.
— FIBA (@FIBA) August 13, 2019
The last time the Malian team came together was for Pre-Olympics Qualifying Tournament in Mozambique where they fell short of their target but according to Gandega, there is never a wasted chance. Every tournament is part of the learning process.
She told FIBA.basketball that, “We are looking forward to the trophy. This is what we all want. It will not be easy like always because we want all the same thing but we want to create something big with this team so even if it will be very hard, I believe in my team.”
“What I miss the most is my teammates. They are like my sisters. I also miss our fans, competing and the adrenaline when you play at every game. It is the whole experience.”
With the ongoing global pandemic that almost brought the world to its knees, basketball has slowly returned to its feet and for Gandega who features for Angers ufab 49 in France, this was a sigh of relief.
This consistency is key to her remaining fit and ready for the AfroBasket later this year.