YAOUNDE (AfroBasket Women 2015) - Ten years on since Nigeria last won an AfroBasket Women title, they aim at returning to the top step of the podium again at AfroBasket Women 2015 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
And coach Scott Nnaji has selected his best players to following in the footsteps of legendary Mfon Udoka, who has ignited Nigeria to two consecutive titles (2003 and 2005).
“For me, personally, [Mfon] Udoka has been like my role model,” Sanni told FIBA.com.
“When I came in, in my first year to play in 2006 she was there and she was kind of my mentor as we played the same position. And she helped me along the way. She gave us hope that we can play for our country and play professionally.
“She has been a great inspiration for Nigeria’s women basketball and we look up to her.
“We are happy that she is here to give us support, and hopefully one day she will be along the sideline coaching us."
Both Sanni and Joyce Ekworomadu have played in the WNBA and that is the kind of experience that Nnaji’s team needs to finish top of the competition and secure direct qualification for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Nigeria last played in the Olympics back in 2004, and the Rio Games remains very much alive in the minds of Sanni and the rest of the team.
“I believe in all our girls and we are just taking each game at a time, that’s all we need to do,” Sanni added.
And being one of the veterans on the team gives Sanni credibility to direct her younger teammates.
Even though the 29-year-old has never won an AfroBasket Women title, she knows it requires a lot of team effort to dethrone the likes of contenders such as hosts Cameroon, Angola, Mali and Senegal.
“[Joyce and me] For us, we just want to try one more time to help our country to get to the Olympics," she said.
"We personally have been there [World Championship 2006], we play professional.
"It’s just this one thing that we want to help lead Nigeria and the kids that are coming up. This is a great way to show that we are role models for them.
“For us, it’s just about play hard and help Nigeria where they want to be," Sanni pointed out.