NAMUR (2016 Rio Olympics) - Senegal shooting guard Astou Traore couldn't have asked for a better way to remain motivated for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In a matter of five months, the 34-year-old went from helping her country win AfroBasket Women 2015 last October - thereby qualifying automatically for the Summer Games in Brazil - to sparking Basketball Club Namur-Capital to the Belgium Cup title last week.
The 1.83m sharpshooter made four of her five three-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points as Basketball Club Namur edged out Mithra Castors Braine 80-79. As a result Traore was named the MVP of the 2016 Belgium Cup.
For a player of her age, she admits "it's a big personal accomplishment".
"It gives me a lot of motivation moving forward to the Olympics," Traore told FIBA.com. "Winning these titles in such a short period of time gives me a sense of accomplishment. It proves that my sacrifice and tenacity is paying off.
"I credit my teammates who created good plays that allowed me to make those shots. That win was a great team effort."
By the time the Olympics tip off in four months time, Traore could become one of the players that head coach Moustapha Gaye may need to help Senegal win its first-ever Olympics game.
At AfroBasket Women 2015, Astou Traore led Senegal in scoring for the third straight African championship
Rio 2016 marks Senegal's first Olympic appearance since 2000, and Traore - who averaged 15 points and 3.6 rebounds in the country's continental title run in Yaounde last year - can't wait to prove herself in the world stage court.
In the Group Phase, Senegal will face Canada, Serbia, world and Olympic champions USA, and two other teams that will qualify via the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).
The Olympics represents a challenge for the ages for the Senegalese.
"The USA is the most difficult opponent in our group and it will be very, very difficult - if not impossible - to beat them," said Traore. "But we are going to Rio to play good basketball and show the world that we can compete. I feel we can win games in the Group Phase.
It’s going to be fun. I have been playing in Europe for over a decade, but competing against the best teams in the Olympics is something extraordinary. - Traore
"The European teams are really good but this doesn't mean we can't beat them. But we know that we have to play our very best against them, and if we prepare the right way we will be fine," she explained.
Off the court, Traore hopes she'll get the chance to experience Rio.
"I have never been there, and I am looking forward to being there and finding out more about the city. Of course the Olympics will be my priority but I would like to discover the city."
Gaye is currently scouting potential players to represent Senegal not only at the Olympics but also to defend their continental title in 2017.
Traore feels she may be reaching the end of the road with the national team in Rio.
"People keep asking me when I am going to retire. The truth is that I feel great, I still can compete at high level, but after the Olympics I will have to decide the future of my national team career," she revealed. "People might not know, but we have so many talented young players in Senegal. I think it's about time to give them a chance. As for my club career, I feel capable of competing another four seasons."