The FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017 Final Round taking place from September 15-24 may be five months away but Chioma Priscilla Udeaja is already foreseeing Nigeria emerging top at the end of a 12-team battle in Bamako, Mali.
Senegal, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt are made up of female players like us and the difference only shows when the game is played.” – Udeaja
Udeaja’s confidence stems from the D’Tigresses’ 3rd-Place Game win at FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2015 where she played a key role in the Semi-Final 65-55 win over Angola.
That win also meant that Nigeria took part in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2016 held in France for a place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but Nigeria got knocked out on technical grounds.
“Though Nigeria have qualified automatically for the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017, my focus is to see a Nigerian team that would go beyond the performance in Cameroon. We have quality players that can do the job and lift the trophy for the third time,” the 33-year-old told FIBA.com.
However, she is aware of the task ahead as they will face tough opposition in Bamako.
“This is not to say we will underrate other teams but I believe that with the right preparations, the Nigeria women’s team will emerge champions,” she went on. “Winning the title does not come on a platter of gold. Preparation is key to success. A team that did not prepare well will be seen on the court because their coordination will be faulty.”
Being part of the team is important as she wants to give her best to ensure victory for Nigeria.
“I am a player based in Nigeria and it matters nothing to me when my peers come from abroad. As long as it is basketball, I will put in my best to make the court but my only desire is for the federation to help us with preparations,” the 1.93m forward explained. “A situation where players from home and abroad are brought together on time to train will go a long way. Senegal, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt are made up of players like us and the difference only shows when the game is played.”
Udeaja, who plays for Nigerian women’s league champions First Bank Basketball Club, feels strongly about her national team-mates doing Nigeria proud this time around.
“As players, we’re ready to go the extra mile to see us victorious but it is also dependent on how we prepare.”
She was a key figure for Nigeria at the All Africa Games winning bronze in 2015 and also helping First Bank to retain her FIBA Africa Zone Three title in Lome, Togo and finishing third place in the Club championship where her team humbled Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto in the third place game.
Nigeria has won the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket in 2003 in Mozambique and two years later when they hosted the event.