Nigeria’s senior women’s basketball team begin their quest for a place at Rio 2016 Olympic Games with D’Tigress facing  a tough clash against Belarus in  the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which starts  in Nantes, France, on Monday. The WOQT will end on June 19.

D’Tigress, who are ranked 42nd in the world, are in  Group C alongside  Belarus and South Korea. Five teams will qualify from the tournament to join the others who have already qualified for the Games.

D’Tigress  coach, Scott Nnaji, released the final list of players for the tournament during the week with only three home-based players making the cut.

The players are Promise Amukamara, Upe Atosu, Joyce Ekworomade, Adaora Elonu, Sarah Ogoke, Uju Ugoka, Ndidi Madu, Chioma Udeaja, Olayinka Sanni, Ezinne Kalu, Elem Ibiam and Helen Ogunjimi.

Four of the players are newly-invited to the team but coach Nnaji believes they will help the team in their quest to secure qualification.

“These new players bring more energy at both ends of the court. We watched the film of our games against Turkey and we came to the conclusion that we lacked communication,” Nnaji told FIBA.com.

“But we are ready for the WOQT now. Both Amukamara and Kalu have good ball handling and should be key for us. Because of her size (1.94m), I expect Ibiam to help us in the paint.”

In the preparations for the tournament, Nigeria played two warm-up matches against Turkey – which they lost 68-56 and 67-56 but Nnaji told our correspondent that the team have learnt from the two defeats.

He said, “We are not going to France to add to the numbers. Our aim is to be there and secure qualification for the Olympics. It will not come easy but we will not be pushovers there.

“The rankings of our opponents may be higher than ours but we will work hard to spring surprises and get what we are seeking – the Olympic ticket.”

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