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Traore in dreamland after Senegal make history
TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - The scenes of jubilation as Senegal pipped Latvia at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 has already been cemented as a leading tournament highlight.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the action in Tenerife, this game, the result and the way in which it was celebrated will not fade in terms of significance for those involved - and especially team leader, Astou Traore.
The FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 MVP was typically influential as she posted a team-high 19 points in the 70-69 victory as Senegal recorded a historic maiden win against European opposition.
It was also their first Women's World Cup win in 12 years although, for Traore, you have to reach even further back to truly understand how long Senegal have waited to simply taste a meaningful result in the competition.
"In 2006 we beat Nigeria in a classification game. This one (against Latvia) was an important one as the team that won was likely to move on," said the 37-year-old.
"The team gave everything and played very well - it was great as it is a game that counts.
"For us, it was like a Final. We deserved it because the whole team wanted to win and they (Latvia) wanted it too. I congratulate all the girls and the staff because we played very well.
"It's the first time we beat a European team and it's a dream," continued Traore. "It was a real objective to win one game and to advance. But we're not going to stop here - we're going to continue working."
Meanwhile Senegal play-caller Cheikh Sarr declared: "It's a historic win and we've broken the curse. I'm very proud because we did it. We wanted it and the girls did everything.
"They deserve it because Latvia is a very, very tough team and very strong. The key was to be very aggressive, control the tempo and then slow down, because they (Latvia) were going very fast, so we slowed it down with a zone press. The key was to stay focused and be regular in the effort.
"We're going to rest, ice, prepare and scout for China, because they're very tough. They have everything - guards, and bigs. So we will stay grounded and focused.
"We have to remain humble and turn ourselves towards even better horizons," he warned.