RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - By the time the Rio Olympics Women's basketball tournament comes to an end for Senegal on Sunday, the African champions will take out more positives than negatives, even though they lost their first four games.
For most of their four games, local fans joined a small number of Senegalese cheering for Aya Traore, Astou Traore, and Co. They became one of the most applauded teams in the tournament, but in conversation with FIBA.com, the team's captain Aya Traore insisted the Rio Olympics served as a learning process for them.
Without any chance of qualifying for the next round, Senegal will take on Serbia on Sunday, looking to return home with a win.
Traore explained why they shouldn't be negative about their participation in Rio.
FIBA.com: Aya, as the MVP of last year's AfroBasket Women, how do you evaluate your team's display in Rio?
Traore: Traore: If you want to win a game in the Olympics you have to play as a team. We played at the World Championship 2010, but it’s been so long that we are in the process of learning. Hopefully, whatever we have learned here in Rio, we’ll take it moving forward.
FIBA.com: Senegal had a difficult start of the competition. Did you find the level of competition to high for Senegal?
Traore: This is the highest level that I've ever played. It’s not easy, but we are satisfied with the way fought. We are going to focus on the game left.
FIBA.com: If Serbia can beat you, they will advance to the Quarter-Finals. What's your mindset moving into that game?
Traore: All we gonna do is focus on ourselves. It’s gonna be a basketball game, hopefully, we continue to play the way we played against Canada.
FIBA.com: Speaking of Canada, that was probably the best game you played here in Rio even though you lost 68-58.
Traore: No doubt about that. That was clearly our best game in the tournament, hopefully, we can put the same intensity for the game against Serbia.
FIBA.com: Senegal last played in the Olympics in 2000. How are you finding the Rio Olympics?
Traore: It’s going really good. We are having a lot of fun. The Opening Ceremony was surreal. That’s something you see every Olympic on the TV. When the moment came it is something that you can’t explain, you just have to feel it and live it. Definitely, you just need to enjoy the moment.