COTONOU (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - The Republic of Benin, the hosts of the first leg of the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 Group C Qualifiers, are determined to give the qualification battle their best shot and book a place in the Final Round in Congo Brazzaville in August.
Benin play host to Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire from March 14-18 with the second leg taking place in Cote d’ Ivoire March 22-26.
While the country's Basketball Federation under the leadership of Alex Paraiso, is working round the clock to get venue and other logistics ready, the team is working daily to be ready for action.
Paraiso prefers to let his work speak for him rather than make a mountain out of a mount hill. He told FIBA.com that he understands what it means to host and that they are ready.
But despite the low profile that the federation wishes to portray, one player who is silently on his knees praying and working out with the Benin national men's team is Romaric Quenum.
He has promised to encourage his team-mates to go all out and make history.
"As a player, I want to go and fight to get a qualification. We have come close in the past and lost by some errors," the 31-year-old said.
Despite falling short in the qualifiers against Cote d'Ivoire two years ago, Quenum remains upbeat.
"Having tried to get a final berth on a few occasions, trying again is not out of place. We understand Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire and know that with level of hard work, we can defeat them to be on the lead role and of the second leg in Abidjan.
"This will be the third time we’re trying and I must admit we made mistakes in the past but we will give this our best shot. The players and coaches are determined."
Quenum, who plies his trade for Cotonou-based side ASPAC Basketball Club, notes that he is home to contribute his quota for his country just as he promised to help his team return to winning ways and emerge champions of the league.
"I look ahead to helping ASPAC regain the league title and a ticket for the finals of the continental club championship," he said.
The shooting guard who almost quit the game a few years ago stated that he is now challenged to play the game at the highest level.
"At a point in my game here in Benin, I felt like quitting the game entirely to do something else but I got challenged playing for the Dodan Warriors of Lagos in the Nigerian amateur league and since returning home, I must tell you that there is a new vigour in me to aim for higher targets."