ABUJA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Nigeria's potential to reach the Rio 2016 Olympics will be put to the test when they play two warm-up games against Turkey in Istanbul in May (27-28), three weeks after opening their training camp in the capital Abuja.
The Nigerians claimed a Third-Place finish at AfroBasket Women 2015 and as a result secured a place at the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) in Nantes, France to be held from 13-19 June.
Nigeria head coach Scott Nnaji told FIBA.com that the country's basketball federation is doing its best to meet the needs of the team and put it in a position to succeed.
The Nigerians last played in the Olympics in 2004, and in order to reach the Rio Olympics they will need to claim one of the five places at stake in Nantes.
They have been drawn in Group C along with Belarus and Korea. If they can win at least one game in the group, and win two more in the Final Phase, they will secure a place in Rio Olympics.
That is why Nnaji is calling the preparation games against Turkey and Argentina - who are also playing in the 12-team WOQT - "highly important" to measure the team's potential.
"We expect the players to come to camp ready to face the challenge ahead," he noted.
Nnaji is expected to reveal Nigeria's preliminary squad in early May and admits he is leaning towards making changes from the team that went 6-2 in Yaounde, Cameroon last October.
We will be having new players to help strengthen the team, thus, the camp in Turkey will give us the opportunity of friendly matches to help us blend together better. - Nnaji
"We have a list [of players] that have shown interest to be part of the team, and we hope they will make it to the camp," he explained.
It's been 10 years since Nigeria last faced a European team in an official competition. At the 2006 FIBA Women's World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, they lost 84-50 to Russia.
Nigeria will open their WOQT campaign on 13 June against Belarus.