28 June, 2014
06 July
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FRA - Bitter sweet for Bankole and Les Bleues

PILSEN (FIBA U17 World Championship for Women) - Ornella Bankole produced a big performance at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women to help dig France out of a serious hole against the Slovak Republic but has been left sweating on her fitness ahead of Friday's Quarter-Finals in Pilsen.

Bankole helped the French to recover from a double-digit deficit to take a 47-42 win on Wednesday with a contribution of 22 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, while also making every single one of her 12 free-throws which was pivotal in such a hard-fought and dramatic contest.

However, her joy on the final buzzer was tempered by a worrying ankle injury which left her unable to walk without assistance and she therefore remains a serious doubt for the Quarter-Final match-up against neighbours Spain.

Her potential absence would be a hammer-blow for Les Bleues, but like the rest of her team-mates, she was simply focusing on the relief of dodging a major bullet against Slovak Republic.

"We had a really bad start to the game, but we always maintained hope and fought hard until the end," said Bankole.

"It's difficult to play a team which we had faced so many times in preparation as the players know each other very well.

"But defensively we were ready for them," she stated, with France having held their opponents to a meagre four points during the last period.

Playing Spain will prove to be another tough assignment, but Bankole is confident that if France keep their shape and discipline, they can execute a strategy which could be successful.

"I think that if we respect our game-plan and try to control the match, we can have good possibilities," she offered.

"Our plan will be to respect our values and keep the right state of mind. If we manage to do this, we can play the kind of basketball we know.

"Our expectations ahead of the tournament were always for the podium, but we're trying to advance step-by-step and we know that we will have to try and exceed our limits."

Currently a participant at the renowned Centre Federal de Basket Ball (CFBB), Bankole has high hopes of continuing her progression through the ranks of the national teams and craves to line up alongside a particular senior star.

"Wearing the French colours and playing for CFBB is a dream come true and I am very proud," she said.

"It is something really great and I'm happy to represent them.

"My favourite player is Diandra Tchatchouang because she is young and has lots of talent," continued Bankole.

"But I still think Diana Taurasi is the best as I like everything about her game - she can play defense and can always shoot.

"She's also someone who is scared of absolutely nobody."

With or without Bankole, France will play Spain in the Quarter-Finals in Pilsen on Friday as they try to sustain their hopes of a medal.