BAMAKO (FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017) - Once every two years, the 12 best women's basketball national teams from across Africa battle it out for the right to finish on the podium at the African Championship.
From Friday, August 18-27, the Malian capital of Bamako, will take centre stage and showcase the very best of what FIBA Africa women's basketball has to offer.
Why does the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 matter? FIBA.basketball offers you these top 10 reasons to follow this year's African Championship.
1. Africa's best talents coming down to Bamako
The list of superstars in the Bamako showdown is almost never-ending. Here is a list of players to follow: Adaora Elonu (Nigeria), Menatalla Awad and Soraia Deghady (Egypt), Italee Lucas (Angola), Leia Dongue (Mozambique), Astou Traore (Senegal), Ramses Lonlack (Cameroon) and Naignouma Coulibaly (Mali).
2. Which two African teams will qualify for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018?
The finalists at Bamako showdown will represent the African continent at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain. Four years ago, Angola and Mozambique represented the continent in Turkey. However, historically, Senegal have become the most regular African nation to compete in the World Cup competition counting four straight appearances dating back to 1998. Can they do it again?
3. Can Senegal retain the African title?
Both Angola and Nigeria have become the only two nations to win back-to-back African Championships. As Nigeria claimed their first-ever continental title in 2003, they were able to defend the crown two years later as hosts of the tournament. Angola followed suit six years later. The Southern Africans upset highly favorites Senegal to clinch the 2011 trophy before traveling to Mozambique two years later to deny the hosts, and as a result, qualify for their first-ever FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in 2014.
The most asked question of the moment in African basketball circles is: can Senegal retain the title?
4. Aminata Sylla
If you are not a Guinea basketball follower, you might have never heard of Aminata Sylla. Far from being the most talented on the continent of Africa, Sylla loves playing for her country. And when Guinea comes calling, she is always ready to represent the Western Africa country.
What makes Sylla special? At the age of 43 and two FIBA Women's AfroBasket appearances under her belt, she is set to become the oldest player to ever play in the competition.
5. The WNBA experience
Congolese Mwadi Mabika is arguably the most famous African player who has ever played in the WNBA. However, take a closer look into the 12 teams rosters, and you will find players with WNBA player experience. Take Bernadette Ngoyisa as an example. The Congolese power forward has played for the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2006.
Nigerian Evelyn Akhator was drafted with the third overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft by the Dallas Wings. Mali's Astan Dabo was drafted by the Connecticut Sun in the 2012 WNBA draft although the 6ft8in (2.03m) center has spent most of her career in Europe. Prior to joining the Nigerian national team's training camp, Elonu had signed a training camp contract with the Connecticut Sun.
7. Three-point contest
8. Hosts dilemma
FIBA Women's AfroBasket hosts face an inexplicable dilemma. Not a single host nation has won the African Championship since 2005. Senegal (2007), Madagascar (2009), Mali (2011), Mozambique (2013) and Cameroon (2015) have all failed to lift the trophy at home. Can Mali revert this tendency?
9. Can the DR Congo make some noise?
It's been six years since the Democratic Republic of Congo last appeared in the tournament. As the second most successful African with three titles - after Senegal - the question is: can they win it again?
10. Is this Egypt's turn?
This is Egypt's third straight appearance in the competition. While the North Africans have become a dominant force at youth level, the senior team is yet to reach the last four. However, with a team that includes some of the most talented players in Africa, and following their encouraging win over Angola two years ago, they have earned respect from their opponents.