YAOUNDE (AfroBasket Women 2015) - It's been eight years since Mali last won an AfroBasket Women title, but they are in Cameroon capital city of Yaounde competing at AfroBasket Women 2015 aiming at returning to their glory days.
Former WNBA star Hamchetou Maiga, who propelled Mali to their first-ever continental title at AfroBasket Women 2007, is in Yaounde encouraging her fellow Malians in the battle for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Mali advanced to Thursday's Quarter-Finals and will take on Senegal, a team that they defeated in the Final back in 2007 in Senegal's capital city of Dakar.
Maiga, who retired from international basketball four years ago after Mali finished third at AfroBasket 2011 played in the Malian capital of Bamako, feels Amara Traore's team has what it takes to go all the way to final in Yaounde.
We know the challenge of making it to the Olympics, but we are up for it, but we are looking at one game at a time," she noted.
"Everybody is playing for the same goal. It's going to be really tough."
Mali have shown competitiveness despite a44-43 defeat to tournament hosts Cameroon in the Group Phase.
Maiga, who is serving as assistant to coach Traore, represented Mali at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and the experience was so valuable for her, that she would do anything in her power to help the team reach the Rio Games.
I would like to believe that my skills could help this Mali team making in it to Rio de Janeiro. - Maiga
Whatever the results in Yaounde, Maiga feels that Mali basketball should be proud with their recent achievements.
"Mali basketball has improved a lot, especially at the youth level," she pointed out.
"They have been winning all the African Championships for the past couple of years and that's credit to the Federation for the camps that they do for the kids of Mali.
"That's the starting point, getting kids to play basketball. I would like to believe that we continue working this way," she concluded.
As for her basketball future, Maiga remains as passionate as when she began her basketball career in Bamako.
"Basketball has been part of my life. That's something that I enjoy doing, and I would have loved to be playing here, but I believe I wasn't meant to be playing this time. I am here to help the girls."
Just like Maiga, a few former AfroBasket Women stars such as Nigeria's Mfon Udoka and Mozambique's Clarisse Machanguana are in Yaounde following the Road to Rio 2016.