Senegal’s Lionesses count on big three for Olympics bid


As the countdown to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Antwerp, Belgium, draws near, Senegal’s women’s national basketball team, the Lionesses, are gearing up for one of their toughest challenges yet.

Spearheaded by the formidable trio of Cierra Dillard, Yacine Diop, and Fatou Diagne, the Lionesses are determined to secure a coveted spot at the Olympic Games.

The draw for the OQT has pitted Senegal against formidable opponents, including the host nation Belgium, reigning European champions USA Basketball, and perennial African powerhouse Nigeria.

Undoubtedly, the road to Olympic qualification is fraught with challenges, but the Lionesses are undaunted as they prepare to face off against the best in the world.

The stakes are high for Senegal, especially after falling to Nigeria in the final of the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2023 tournament. The defeat denied Senegal a record-extending 12th continental title and served as a bitter reminder of the challenges ahead.

However, under the guidance of new head coach Carlos Alberto Antuna, the Lionesses are determined to turn the tables and secure their ticket to the Summer Games in Paris.

For Cierra Dillard, who played a pivotal role in Senegal’s silver medal finish at the 2023 Women’s AfroBasket, the upcoming OQT presents an opportunity to test their mettle against the best in the world.

Despite facing formidable opponents, Dillard remains optimistic, emphasizing the importance of unity and teamwork in overcoming adversity.

Yacine Diop, a former MVP of the FIBA U18 African Championship for Women, echoes Dillard’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for thorough preparation and unwavering determination.

With a new coach at the helm, Diop believes the Lionesses have the potential to upset the odds and secure crucial victories against their rivals.

Fatou Diagne, the towering center for Senegal, shares her teammates’ confidence and determination. Acknowledging the disappointment of losing the AfroBasket final, Diagne believes the OQT provides the Lionesses with a chance for redemption.

With a renewed focus and determination, Diagne is confident that Senegal has what it takes to emerge victorious and book their ticket to the Olympics.

The camaraderie and chemistry among the Lionesses’ Big Three, honed during their time together at Egypt’s Alexandria Sporting Club in the Africa Women’s Basketball League, provide a solid foundation for success.

As they prepare to represent Senegal and Africa on the global stage, Dillard, Diop, and Diagne are united in their quest to make history and propel the Lionesses to Olympic glory.

For Senegal, the Olympic dream is within reach, and with the talent, determination, and unity of their star players, the Lionesses are ready to seize the moment and etch their names in basketball history.

As they embark on their journey to Antwerp, Senegal’s Big Three stand poised to lead the charge and inspire a nation towards Olympic greatness.

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