SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - There are a number of reasons why Nigeria and Senegal should try to change the course of history at this year's FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Tenerife in September (22-30).
Tunisia, Kenya, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Mali, Nigeria, Madagascar, have all tried, but only seven-time FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup participant Senegal managed two wins in the 1990 edition against hosts Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
So when fellow FIBA columnist Jeff Taylor told me - prior to the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) - that "African women's basketball in major tournaments over the years is for me too strong of an indicator about the gulf in class that persists," I thought that Taylor's assessment reflected the world's perception of women's basketball in Africa.
Nevertheless, Nigeria's terrific WOQT performance against Europe heavyweights Belarus - despite a 71-60 defeat - that was followed by a triumph over Korea should have bolstered Nigeria's confidence at the upcoming World Cup.
As long as Nigeria keep at least half of their roster that took Bamako by a storm last August, where they won all their eight FIBA Women's AfroBasket games before being crowned African champions for the first time since 2005, and bring back head coach Sam Vincent, they will be able to make some noise in Tenerife.
Reaching the Quarter-Finals may seem a mirage to African teams in Tenerife, but the rising number of Nigerian and Senegalese players currently in Europe's major leagues - Astou Traore, Adaora Elonu, Sarah Ogoke - just mention a few, as well as those teams' burning desire to change the course of history, make these two teams respectable oppositions.
Senegal have made some changes by signing head coach Cheikh Sarr as a replacement to Moustapha Gaye.
Sarr is not new to the world stage, making the Tenerife showpiece a comfort zone for Senegal.
He is the man who inspired Senegal men's team to an impressive campaign at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which saw the Western Africans shocking Europe's heavyweight Croatia in the Group Phase, falling to hosts Spain in the Final Phase in Madrid.