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Mali star Ballo promises: This is not the end, this is just the beginning
HERAKLION (Greece) - Mali cemented their status amongst the top fairytale storylines in international basketball history on Saturday, as the west Africans reached the Final of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019. Oumar Ballo was a huge part of it, picking up 17 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in a 76-73 win over France.
The 16-year-old (he won't turn 17 until July 13) talked to fiba.basketball about the historic win and what still can be expected from this Mali team.
Mali just reached the Final of the U19 World Cup, what are your thoughts right now?
This is a historic victory for us. We have been preparing this for a long time. Tomorrow is another game and we will be ready to play tomorrow. We want to make all of our parents proud of us.
When did this team believe you could reach this Final?
Since Day 1. Since Day 1 when we were in Mali preparing. We have come a long way, a really long way. Nobody believed in us. But we did, our country believed in us. The rest, nobody else. Now is the time to prove everyone wrong.
What does this mean for not only Mali but all of Africa?
Africa will be really proud of that. This is the first time in our history and all the other nations will support us tomorrow. We are really proud of that. We as Africans proved to everyone that we can play good.
How much do you celebrate and then look forward to the Final?
I mean we will celebrate this. This is the first time but this is not what we want. We still want more. So we gotta celebrate this only here in the gym. As soon as we go to the hotel, it’s focused on tomorrow. This is not the end, this is just the beginning. So tomorrow is the real day.
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What do you expect from the Final?
We have to play a really good game. We are really going to give a hard time to USA. We are not here to joke. We are here to show them and the world that we can play ball.