PIACENZA (2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Only three of 12 players that helped Cameroon finish runners-up at AfroBasket Women 2015 have been named in the preliminary squad for the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT), the country's basketball federation (FECABASKET) announced on Wednesday.
Under head coach Guy Moudio - who replaced Alain Zedong at the helm of the Indomitable Lionesses - Cameroon is due to play a number of warm-up games on Italian soil before travelling to Nantes, France, where the WOQT will run from 13-19 June.
While there are many new faces, Catherine Ghane is returning to the national team for the first time since AfroBasket Women 2013.
The newcomers include Marie Frederique Ayissi, a French-born 1.84m forward who represented her native country at the 2001 World Championship Junior. She is joined by a number of players with US college experience, including naturalised USA-born Brittany Starling.
Five tickets for the Rio Olympics are on offer at the WOQT and Cameroon - who have been drawn with Turkey and Argentina in Group B - will need to win at least one game in the Group Phase to advance to the Final Phase. Then if the Central Africans can win a Quarter-Final game or can finish fifth, they will be on their way to Rio.
Cameroon could have secured direct qualification for the Rio Games, had they beaten Senegal in the Final of the African Championship last October.
However, FECABASKET President Samuel Nduko remains upbeat about the team’s chances in the WOQT.
We had to renew the team and prepare it for next year’s African Championship. We want to go to Rio, and this team is good enough to do it. - Nduku
Asked to describe the potential of the new recruits, Nduku indicated there are high expectations for Starling, a former South Carolina University standout: "She is already with the team and we hope she can help us with her strong game in the paint."
Cameroon 16-player preliminary squad for 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament: Rose Abenkou, Marie Frederique Ayissi, Marguerite Effa, Catherine Ghane, Cellia Kengne, Ramses Lonlack, Priscilla Mbiandja, Larissa Mbong, Marie-Ange Mfoula, Monique Ndjock, Maeva Ndongmo, Clarence Sandjon, Brittany Starling, Jolene Tamboue, Nelly Weledji and Kendra Weledji.