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Ewodo fostering family legacy at Women's AfroBasket 2021
YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - Cameroon's Marina Ewodo headed to the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021 with her ultimate goal being powering the "Lionesses" as the host are christened to their best performance in the continental event.
When the 1.85m (6ft) lanky forward hit a game-best 16 points and seven rebounds to steer Cameroon to a comfortable 74-50 win against Kenya, she had already endeared herself in the hearts of fans.
"THE ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE IS TO GO AS FAR AS POSSIBLE AND WIN THE AFROBASKET."
"An apple never falls far from the tree" a former national team player hinted at when describing Ewodo's performance.
The Pau native is from Cameroon's basketballing royalty and she's forging a family heritage established close to three decades ago.
The host team pleased the fans with the W over 🇰🇪 @teamlioness254. Good team win of 🇨🇲 to start the competition! Check the highlights!@FECABASKET #AfroBasketWomen #Celebrate60 pic.twitter.com/MqRkjddi6c— FIBA Women's Afrobasket (@afrobasketwomen) September 18, 2021
Her father Narcisse Ewodo was a Cameroon international who played at the FIBA AfroBasket 1992 in Cairo, Egypt.
A 2.02m (6ft 7in) small forward and shooting guard, Ewodo Sr. is considered one of Cameroon's most significant basketballing exports.
Narcisse Ewodo's career was laced with stints at French clubs at Toulouse, Pau, Cholet, and Havre as well as in the German Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) where he emerged the best scorer during the 2004-2005 season, averaging 21 points for BG Karlsruhe.
With Pau, Ewodo won two French Championships in 1998 and 1999 and it was during his first year at the club that Marina was born
"My family is very much into basketball," Marina Ewodo remarked in an interview with FIBA.basketball.
"My father's love for basketball is infectious and he kept encouraging myself and my sisters to play basketball.
"Basketball has been a big part of my life since being little."
Even though the 23-year-old grew up on the exploits of her father, she wasn't fascinated by the game until her teenage years.
"Initially it was more of my father wanting us to share in his passion because I wasn't really into basketball.
"The more I played, the more I enjoyed it and then I started to love it especially because I enjoyed meeting new teammates and creating new friendships," Ewodo confided before adding "It got more serious for me when I was around 14 and I started thinking that maybe I could do something out of the talent I had."
Marina wasn't the lone Ewodo girl thinking about that. Her younger sister Yohana Isabelle had already become a diehard of the sport.
The 20-year old shooting guard who modelled her game to that of her father, Yohana is a French youth international who averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds at the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup in Belarus where France finished second.
Marina Ewodo admits that having so many basketball aficionados around her comes at a cost, with family dinners often spiralling into tactical discussions and game reviews.
"The discussions always end up being around basketball," Ewodo said giggling.
"My dad is always giving both of us bits of advice and pointers on how to get better and we learn a lot from one another because I and my little sister have very different games.
"So there are many things that I can learn from her and vice-versa.
"This season myself and Yohana will play in the same league, so it's going to be interesting to play against each other." the Cameroon international remarked.
"I have another sister who is 17, she used to play also but now she sort of took some distance from the competition and plays more for fun. But when we are all together, we love to get some shots up, play pick up for fun."
Have fun while playing is a mantra that Ewodo has carried throughout her life.
Her basketball flair and relentless energy on the court were once more evident as she churned in 11 points in Cameroon's 71-40 battering of Cape Verde.
But Ewodo wouldn't take credit for anything, rather commending her teammates for playing as a unit even as eight players in Cameroon's roster (including her) are appearing in the continent's pinnacle nations bonanza for the first time.
Another group of lionesses earned a spot in the quarter-finals! 🎉Congratulations to Cameroonians queens!🎉— FIBA Women's Afrobasket (@afrobasketwomen) September 20, 2021
Second straight win for @FECABASKET over @fcbbcaboverde 71-40!#AfroBasketWomen #Celebrate60 pic.twitter.com/pbLv9kxc3N
"I liked the project around the Cameroon team," Ewodo stated.
"I discussed with coach Ahmed Mbombo Njoya and I was very interested in his goal of starting with a new generation and building for the future.
"I think that what helps me being successful on the court is that I trust my game and my shots.
"My teammates are making things easy because they trust me and all this confidence that I have around me helps me play more relaxed.
"The team's dynamics that we have is the key. We all trust each other and I feel like we have each other’s back constantly. I enjoy playing with the team."
Cameroon's cohesion will be tested in the Quarter-Finals where they will play either Egypt or Tunisia.
But Ewodo believes the drive to return to basketball prominence in Africa is too important a task to ignore.
Six years ago, on home court, Cameroon's maiden title hopes were thrown into tatters by Senegal but this current cast of Cameroonian players are cautiously daring.
"The ultimate objective is to go as far as possible and win the AfroBasket," Ewodo reveals.
"Our mentality as a team has been that we respect every team but we aren't scared of anybody. So I would say that the goal is also to give everything and have no regrets. We also know that we are a new and young team compared to others and this could have an impact.
"As our coach keeps telling us, we have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we left everything on the court.
"That's why we'll ball hard and do our best to make the fans happy," she concluded.