ABUJA (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - In a year of tremendous success for Nigerian shooting guard Nkechi Akashili, winning the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 is easily the icing on the cake.
If Akashili had seen this coming at the beginning of the year perhaps she would have walked through her practice sessions but not one to look for shortcuts, she kept her eyes on the silver lining as a dream chaser.
"Winning the AfroBasket was a dream come true. We were not favorites but because we worked together as a team, we managed to achieve our goal. It is a team game and if you do not have team spirit, you cannot win." - Akashili
Like every ambitious player, the Warri native has always wanted to be at the top but she confesses, it is not a rosy journey. It pertains hard work, determination and most of all, commitment.
She told FIBA.basketball that "Winning the FIBA Women's AfroBasket was a dream come true. We were not favorites but because we worked together as a team, we managed to achieve our goal. It is a team game and if you do not have team spirit, you cannot win."
Akashili would have preferred making it three gold medals in one calendar year but she will be happy with what she amassed that has made her realize that indeed dreams come true when there is dedication.
Already thinking about 2018, she is now focused on how she can make it to Nigeria's final roster at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain.
"Making the final round to the World Cup would be big for my profile. We need to do well. I have to continue doing well and carry my team, contribute and not just make up numbers," she explained.
"It is a great dream. That is what most people wish to be. I do not know how to express myself. It will be a great achievement and high profile."
Last year, Akashili was left out of the Nigerian side that featured in the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in France but she picked positives from the omission and has been at it trying to prove that she can be the piece of the puzzle Nigeria will need at the big stage.
Reigning champions Nigeria and runners-up Senegal will represent Africa at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2018 set to be held from September 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.