ABUJA (Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics remains very much alive in the Nigerian Ndidi Madu’s goals.
The Western Africans emerged at AfroBasket Women 2015 held in Yaounde, Cameroon, as one of the strongest contenders to grab the only automatic spot on offer for African teams for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but they fell short to hosts Cameroon in the Semi-Finals.
It was a heartbreaking for Nigeria, who last played in the Olympics back in 2004, however, Madu feels the dream is not over just yet.
The teams that finish in the top-five of the WOQT will secure a spot in the Olympics, and Madu, who averaged valuable 8 points and 9.5 rebounds in Yaounde, is adamant that one of the five spots will go to Nigeria.
“We have already left [AfroBasket Women 2015] behind us,” she told to the Nigerian media.
We have an opportunity to go to Rio [Olympics] - Madu
Nigeria closed out their AfroBasket Women 2015 campaign with a 6-2 mark, including defeats to Senegal and Angola.
Despite opening their campaign with a loss to Angola, Scott Nnaji’s team emerged when it mattered most.
“It doesn’t matter who is on the court in any given time,” Madu recalled.
“Everybody can produce, everybody can score, everybody can rebound, everybody can play defense.”
It’s that team effort that keeps Madu confident for the WOQT.
“I believe 100 percent that we will finish in the top five,” she noted.
“Right now we are just getting ready for the WOQT.”
But how Nigeria managed to bounce back to upset Angola in the third-place game after falling to Cameroon - in their most important game the day before - is something that only they can explain.
Nigeria came up with 65-55 win, but more impressive was Nigeria’s suffocating defense in the final quarter, in which they kept Angola scoreless for the entire 10 minutes.
“We knew we had to win that basketball game in order to have another chance for the Olympics," Madu said.
“We knew the only way to win that game [against Angola] was to play great defense. And we played defense as we have never played before.
“We are grateful that we were able to win bronze in Cameroon
“We were the best team in Cameroon. We knew it, and everybody knew it,“ she concluded.