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Nigeria's Aisha Mohamed: 'We have a very good chance of topping our group'
LAGOS (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - Nigeria current and former players, coaches, and supporters urged an early start of the team's preparations for the upcoming FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, and the country's Basketball Federation responded accordingly.
The African champions are currently holding a training camp in Atlanta, Georgia, hoping to build a competitive team to overcome Argentina, Australia, and Turkey in Group B of the 16-team World Cup set to take place in Spain from September 22-30.
Among the pre-selected Nigeria players is Aisha Mohamed, a 32-year-old power forward who knows better than her teammates the importance of a prolonged preparation.
As the only remaining member from the Nigerian team that featured at FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2006 in Brazil, the 6ft3in (1.93m) center believes this group of Nigerian players could finish the business that the previous generation was unable to do.
Making their World Cup debut twelve years ago in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nigeria lost all their six games.
However, Spain 2018 could be the beginning of a new era, not only for African teams but principally for the entire competition.
"Nigeria is going to change the history of African basketball in the World Cup, would that be easy? The answer is No but with the talent of players and the experience we have on the team, we can accomplish the mission," she said to FIBA.basketball.
"The draws are favorable. We have a very good chance of topping our group and proceeding to the next level to win and win until we seize the trophy.
Last summer, Aisha Mohamed became the first Nigerian to win three African Championship titles (2003, 2005 and 2017)
"I believe if we play together as a team just like we did in Mali [at FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017], we would be victorious. Secondly, most of us have played at the higher level of basketball around the world with the top players. We even have played with some of them on the same team and also played against some of them at the top leagues."
In fact, Mohamed might face her Istanbul Univerisitesi SK teammate Ilayda Guner, who has been named in Turkey's preliminary squad.
Mohamed continued: "It’s not going to be that easy to play against the top players in the World Cup because they have a lot of experiences and most of them have been playing together for much more longer than this new team that we have as of now."
Nigeria won all their eight games to win the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017
What exactly is Nigeria's goal in the World Cup?
Mohamed insists on the team's attempt to make history: "Our goal is to win the championship and bring it back home with us,"
"l am looking forward to helping and contribute to the team with my experience and as a player who’s representing my country, Nigeria. I’m going to use this chance to make sure our team would stand unshakable and competitive against any other team."
"It’s going to be fantastic and an opportunity for us as athletes to honor our country once again in the World Cup where there are going to be many people around the world watching.
"I think every generation of Nigerian players has done or contributed their absolute best to the country and we all have a common goal which is the victory,” she concluded.