PALMA DE MALLORCA (2016 Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Cameroon may not rank among the favourites in the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT), but Ramses Lonlack insists they are capable of clinching one of the five places on offer for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Cameroon, the hosts of AfroBasket Women 2015, finished runners-ups following an 81-66 defeat to Senegal in the final, and as a result they missed out on the only automatic place on offer for African teams for the Olympics.
Although Cameroon climbed eight places in the FIBA Women Ranking in the aftermath of the African championship, the Central Africans (39th) remain among the lowest ranked teams in the WOQT ahead of fellow Africans Nigeria (42nd).
The 12 teams that qualified for the WOQT through the women's continental championships include Argentina, Belarus, China, Cuba, France, Korea, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey and Venezuela.
However, Lonlack believes their chances to advance to the Rio Games shouldn’t be judged by rankings.
"We came short [at AfroBasket Women 2015], but we still have a chance to play in next year’s Olympics," the 26-year-old told FIBA.com.
Qualifying to the [Olympic] Games will depend on our team spirit - Lonlack
"The expectations are not different, we still want to make our dream become true."
Following the AfroBasket Women 2015, Cameroon players and the country basketball federation faced a bonus dispute, raising doubts about the players availability for the WOQT, but Lonlack says, they will be ready for the tournament.
"We ended up getting paid but it won't affect us because we chances of playing in the Olympics," the former Memphis University standout said.
"This [WOQT] is for us, players.
My teammates and I will do everything we can to get our ticket [to the Olympics] - Lonlack
"Our Basketball Federation is gathering information to add young legs that can help us secure a ticket for the Rio Games.
Discussions are underway with other federations, so that we can have many training camps for better preparation," she noted.
Back at AfroBasket Women 2015, Lonlack carried Cameroon with a team-high 15 points per game, she also made to the All-Tournament team for the second time in a row, and unsurprisingly, scouts took notice.
A week later after the African championship, the 1.72m energetic made her debut for Instituto de Fertilidade Air Europe in the Spain’s Liga Femenina 2B.
And, she didn’t take long to make her presence felt.
The Palma de Mallorca-based club opened the season with two consecutive defeats, however, as the Cameroonian adjusted to the team things look a lot better as they currently hold a 3-2 mark.
As for her performance in FIBA Africa’s women flagship event, Lonlack feels she did what she was supposed to do.
"I came short from my goals, but I got 2 out 3 of them. Being a vice-champion is not given to everybody, and make it twice in row to the All-Tournament Team is another achievement that I am happy with.
"Now being a face of Cameroon women's basketball is another good challenge because young generation will be looking up to me."
Cameroon have never played in a world competition, and the WOQT will be a real test for the Lonlack and the rest of the team