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FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup: Can African Teams Record Milestone?

Will African teams reach a milestone at the 2019 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup?

All is set, all eyes are focused on Tenerife, Spain for the long-awaited FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, the world’s largest international women’s basketball competition.

The games will be played across two venues, the Tenerife Sports Pavilion Santiago Martin in San Cristóbal de La Laguna and the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The D’Tigress of Nigeria and the Lioness of Senegal will be representing Africa after both teams won gold and silver respectively in the 2017 AfroBasket Women’s Championship. The D’Tigress are returning to the competition since 2006, while their African counterparts are returning since 2010.

This is another moment that will be recorded as disappointing or successful in Africa’s women’s basketball history at the international competition, based on the results. Since Madagascar became the first African team to participate in the World Cup in 1971, losing all five games, no African team has ever recorded a win in the group stage of the competition.

Similar to other participating teams, Africa’s two representatives had enough time to prepare for the competition and the enthusiasm from both teams, not just to participate, cannot be overlooked as they could make a difference in this year’s edition.

“Our mindset is different. We are not going to the World Cup to make numbers, we are going there to win,” said coach Sheikh Sarr following his appointment as head coach of Senegal.

Perhaps Coach Sarr could cause another upset as he did in the men’s category in 2014, leading the Lions to the Second-round of the competition for the first time after defeating two European heavyweights Croatia and Puerto Rico in the Group phase.

Appointing star player Astou Traore as captain of the Lioness was not a mistake, as she brings a wealth of experience to the team, having participated in over 13 major competitions including two World Cups and the 2016 Olympics.

Of course, captain Traore, a power forward, is aware of the honor that the tournament could add to her personal accomplishment, to the team, and to the country if needed results are produced. She is therefore not taking anything likely.

“The team is in full confidence and we are prepared for the tournament. Our goal is to move to the second round. We all believe in it, and we will give ourselves the means to do it. We are the best in Africa and we did not come to Tenerife for sightseeing. It’s a serious competition and it will not be easy. We are in a difficult group with the United States, China, and Latvia, but we will fight to win matches and honor the national jersey,” she said.

It will be one of the biggest upsets so far if the Lioness can power their way through to defeat USA, the reigning world champions.

Senegal will kick off their World Cup campaign today against USA at 5:00 PM and later face Latvia tomorrow in their second group phase match.

With huge support from the Nigeria Basketball Federation, African champions Nigeria are entering the tournament following intensive training in Atlanta, U.S.A, and Turkey where they played several exhibition games against top sides.

Under the stewardship of newly appointed head coach Otis Hughley, the D’Tigress have maintained that their participation in this year’s edition is going to change the narrative as they are going to shock the world.

“We were born ready for this. This is no point in coming to such events like this just to add to the numbers. We have done what we should have done within the time allowed for training and the general consensus in the team is that we are good to go,” said head coach Hughley.

The D’Tigress are paired in Group B along with Australia, Argentina, and Turkey. They will start their campaign against Australia this morning at the Tenerife Sports Pavilion Santiago Martin.

Tournament Format

Group Phase (Sept. 22-25): Beginning with a preliminary round, teams are divided into groups of four to form Groups A, B, C and D. Each team will face each other once in this phase. The team with the most wins in each group automatically qualifies for the quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals Qualifications (Sept. 26): The eight teams coming in second/third in their groupings will play in single-elimination games for a spot in the Quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals (Sept. 28): Quarterfinal matchups will feature the first-place teams from the groupings phase and winners from quarterfinal qualifiers. The winners of these games advance to the semifinals. The four losing teams will play in classification matches for places 5-8.

Semifinals (Sept. 29): Winners of the Semifinals head to the Finals for the championship game (Sept. 30), and the two losing teams play to determine 3rd and 4th place.

Finals (Sept. 30).

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