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August 2023
5 Ariuntsetseg Bat-erdene (MGL)
11/08/2023
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''Ariuka'' sees Mongolia's debut as ''biggest moment'' in team's history

BANGKOK (Thailand) - For the upcoming FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 Division B in Bangkok, the stakes are different for each of the teams.

For some, it’s a chance at making it back to the top division. For others, the goal is to make it to Division A for the first time.

"Hopefully, in the next 4 and 10 years, we will see tremendous growth in women's basketball in Mongolia. I am sure our debut in FIBA will be the stepping stone for this development."

 

For Mongolia, the situation is a bit unique. This will be the senior women’s national team’s first time ever playing in a FIBA competition. The magnitude of their debut is not lost upon the players, especially Ariuntsetseg "Ariuka" Bat-Erdene who is expected to be one of the stars for the team.

"Definitely, it is the biggest moment in Mongolian women's senior basketball team's history," said the 22-year-old. "It's an honor for me to be able to participate in this tournament as a part of it. And it is my first time playing for the national team [in this format]."

While she will be a Women’s Asia Cup "rookie", Ariuka is far from being inexperienced. She’s already been named MVP of "The League" in Mongolia, the domestic competition in which Bat-Erdene plays for league champions Ulaanbaatar Amazons.

Additionally, she’s also the highest-ranked FIBA 3x3 player in the country at 74th and a frequent representative for the nation.

Aside from the personal drive to succeed, Bat-Erdene also looked for inspiration from other Mongolia teams that have recently represented the nation on the FIBA scene. Whether the U16 women’s national team at the U18 Women’s Asian Championship 2022 Division B or the other FIBA 3x3 teams that have gone all the way to playing in the Olympics.

In particular, the young women’s team and how they performed in their first appearance is one from which Bat-Erdene is drawing motivation.

"Last year, seeing our young squad make it to the Final and barely miss the chance to get promotion to Division A, it was so inspirational, especially considering it was their first FIBA tournament as well," she said.

"And I take lots of inspiration and hope from our 3x3 squads. Our men's teams have paved the way for Mongolian basketball on the world stage. As for the women's 3x3 team, they made it to Tokyo Olympics, it was a historical moment for us."

"Witnessing the successes, makes us believe that we can achieve something more together."

"We will try our best and hopefully we will see good results," she added, regarding her expectations in Bangkok.

A good result - possibly the best result - for Mongolia would be to win it all in Bangkok and gain promotion to Division A. And they’ve certainly been trying their best, at least in the preparation stages as they were in China for a training camp ahead of their travel to Thailand.

 

Only just over a month ago, China had won the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 in Sydney.

"It was really productive," said Bat-Erdene of the training camp. "We played practice games with a few teams, it will help us in Bangkok for sure I think."

"China's women's basketball team has been dominating Asia basketball for quite a while now. It was no surprise, seeing the preparation they put in and commitment. Hopefully, we will be able to implement some of the practice regimes that we saw in China."

As they are still new in the FIBA basketball scene, Mongolia are still some steps behind but they are quickly catching up and are eager to do so, as evidenced by their taking the initiative to train in China. This spells the enthusiasm Mongolia has for basketball and why they are growing at a rapid pace as a basketball country.

Their upcoming debut in the Women’s Asia Cup 2023 Division B is going to be another healthy sign of that progression.

"As basketball has been booming in Mongolia for the last few years, more and more young people are playing basketball at a young age."

"Hopefully, in the next 4 and 10 years, we will see tremendous growth in women's basketball in Mongolia. I am sure our debut in FIBA will be the stepping stone for this development."

FIBA