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11/14/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/14/2019 08:54

Senegal's Dieme : ''We came  to Maputo to make every second count''

MAPUTO (Mozambique) - The race to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 for African countries starts Thursday, November 14 in Maputo, Mozambique, and Senegal's Bintou Dieme remind everybody that their sole wish is to advance to the next round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

However, she acknowledges the fact that the Lionesses are not the hot favorites of the Maputo Showdown, but she still has her mind focused on this goal.

With a tough group B awaiting them, Senegal have to keep their eyes set on their targets. 'Basketball, as much as any other sport, is about who wants it the most,' the 1.70 m (5ft7in) point guard said.

The runners-up of the FIBA Women's AfroBasket this August will open their FIBA Women's Olympic African Pre-Qualifying Tournament against Angola on Thursday before going up against arch-rivals Mali on the following day.

And Dieme who has become a familiar name on the Senegalese team is aware that things will be a bit difficult with the absence of three of their key players in Fatou Diagne, Yacine Diop and dependable Astou Traore.

Traore -who was named MVP of the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 has left a mark in the country's basketball history. 'She has a long legacy with the national team. She's not with us this time around, and her absence will be felt.'

But still, they will need to come up with backup plans and make the most out of their stay in Maputo. With a rejuvenated squad, known for their grinta and passion, Senegal want to look at the bright side of life in Maputo.

'There's been a transition in the team, and we came to Maputo to make every second count. So we are all here driven by the same wish. We know where we're heading to as a group.'

Senegal will face Angola in their first game today

'This will be a very interesting game, as we have met them in and out of competition. Both sides are in a phase of transition, with a mix of experience and youth on the court, Dieme said about their match-up against two-time african Champions Angola.

To achieve their dream of reaching the Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February next year, the Lionesses will rely on their experienced players including Mame Marie Sy, Ndeye Sene and Oumoul Khairy Sarr.

'It's clear that we're not the favorites but we have a number of players who have showcased on the world stage. But the good side is: we know our opponents. We met with them and there's nothing as such a surprise,' the 35 year-old explained.

FIBA