Nigeria last year failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics, but the FIBA Women’s World Cup 2018 in Spain is a goal that Adaora Elonu looks forward to achieving.
Having led Nigeria in scoring during the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2015 as well as the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nantes, France, the 27-year-old small forward feels they can do a lot better at this year’s African Championship in Mali.
Nigeria have been drawn in Group B along with Senegal, Egypt, Mozambique, Guinea and a team that will qualify from FIBA Africa Zone 4.
Why the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017 matters for Nigeria, who last won the continental crown in 2005, is what the Perfumaria Avenida forward explained to FIBA.com.
Nigeria have been drawn in what some describe as the “group of death”. What do you make of that group?
Looking at the teams in the tournament and in our group, I think it will be another exciting FIBA Women’s AfroBasket. Our group, similar to the other group is strong. We played all of the teams in our group in Cameroon, but as two years have passed the teams may have changed.
This is going to be your second FIBA Women’s AfroBasket. What can we expect from the Nigeria national team who was very close to reaching the Final two years ago in Cameroon?
I am truly happy that we are in the competition. Whether as the underdog, the favorite, or a happy competitor, the team that represents Nigeria will fight like always. Finishing third in Cameroon was not our goal, we wanted to win, but that event led us to Nantes and gave us a different look and feel. It was a wonderful experience, although punching a [Rio Olympics] ticket would have been phenomenal. We grew as a team during that summer period, and hope that we can only move forward with that growth.
You last played in Spain (Perfumarias Avenida). The teams that reach the Final of FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017 will qualify for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain. How does that make you feel? What do you make of the prospect of playing the World Cup in Spain after Nigeria fell short to qualify for Rio?
It would be a nice familiarity for me if we qualify and get the chance to play in Spain. I, as well as a few other teammates, have played in Spain, and it would be a great feeling if we could return and play in a country we are familiar with playing in.
Having played for Nigeria over the past two summers, what does your national team need to improve in order to succeed in Bamako, Mali?
We are still growing, so I think consistency will be a good improvement for us. We can always get better and consistency will help that transpire smoothly.
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