The Teranga Lionesses of Senegal were the first team from the African continent to ever play at the FIBA Women World Championship (now World Cup) back in 1975.
Despite losing her African crown to Nigeria in the 2017 Afrobasket Final in Mali to Nigeria. Senegal secured her 8th appearance, the most by any African team at the World Cup as runners up.
Ranked 17th on the FIBA World, Senegal is the number one in Africa based on the ranking but have the World no. 1 to contend with, the United State of America in their opening game at the 2018 FIBA world cup. The Americans who came harmed with just 6 surviving players from the victorious world cup team in Turkey 4 years ago, and a new young bench lead by former player, coach Dawn Staley.
Their mission is straight forward, win their 10th World title in total, complete the 3peat – 3rd in a row and 5th in the last six edition. But first most the most vulnerable United States team yet will have a team that has never won a game on the world stage in their opening fixture. Easy start perhaps…
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HEAD TO HEAD
The USA team boasts of a clean sweep in the 4 meetings with the Africans in 1975, 1990, 1998 and 2010 they won all games without conceding 60 points while they scored triple digits. 89-33, 106-36, 77-48, 108-52 respectively.
Keys to Win
Match-Up Zone Defense: The Americans are traditionally a transition team due to their athleticism and quickness. The lionesses would tire out and get blown if they go pace for pace. The guards must save their legs for defense when it matters. Close to the bucket.
Rebounds: Deny the 2nd chance points and keep Nneka Ogwumike, Tina Charles and Brittany Griner off the boards on both ends on the floor. Maime Sy- Diop, Maimouna Diarra, Yacine Diop and Sidibe all have their work cut out. A war in the paint is imminent.
*Astou Traore must have an excellent game offensively.
Guard Play: Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Ellena Della donne, Jewell Loyd and Kesley Plum can score in more ways than one and equally facilitate. Any combination of 2 on the back court is enough to keep the Tenerife fire service on standby.
Deep Bench: Despite the 6 new injections in the 12 wo-man roster in Spain. Coach Staley boasts of a solid rotation that can help manage fatigue, share playing time and still be effective enough to get the win.
Players to Watch
Senegal: Astou Traore, Maimouna Diarra
USA: Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart 2018 WNBA Finals and regular season MVP
Written by Femi Adefeso. Twitter: @IncredibleFemi