Nairobi — Lithuania-based Mercy Wanyama has made the final Kenyan team for the 3x3 Africa Cup which starts in Egypt on Friday, and the forward has voiwed to use her European experience to help the team clinch a qualifier slot.
Wanyama, who has recently joined Lithuanian league side BC Siauliai believes they have a strong team and can easily battle to clinch the Africa Cup and book a direct ticket to the Universality One, which gives them a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The younger sister to football royalty Victor Wanyama and MacDonald Mariga will be playing the 3x3 for the first time, but says she is ready.
"It feels great to join up with the team. It is my first time on the 3x3 but I understand the game. We will do our best as a team," Wanyama said.
She adds; Every player wants to represent their country at the Olympics and for us it is not different. We want to go there and give our best to be in Paris. This is very big for us because Kenya has never qualified for the Olympics in basketball and we want to make history for the 50million+ Kenyans."
Bring in experience from Europe
Wanyama has spent the last six years in Europe and played in Spain last season before making the switch to Lithuania, where she has already curved her niche and is a dependable player for her club. She hopes her experience can help the team in Egypt.
"I have really grown. I am not the same Mercy I was five years ago. I am bringing what I have learnt on that side and with the talented players we have from the local league, I believe we will do great things," she notes.
The team will be skippered by KPA's Natalie Akinyi, and will also include teammate Hilda Indasi and Zetech University's Madina Okot.
Captain Natalie says the team is ready to battle out and win the Africa Cup, which gives them a direct ticket to the Olympic qualifiers.
"We have a very good team compared to last year and we want to go to the Olympics. Each one of us wants to be called an Olympian so we are ready to give our all in Egypt. Playing at the Olympics is a good platform to showcase our talents and our target is to give it a very good shot," said the KPA point guard.
Coach Kedogo optimistic
The team will be coached by Evelyn Kedogo, who says they have trained really well and are looking to go all out and clinch the title.
"The training has been really good and we had a Strength and Conditioning coach for the first time and this has really helped us to build our physicality. I believe we are ready as a team and we have what it takes to win," noted the coach.
The Kenyan women team is currently ranked fourth in Africa. They will clash with Nigeria, Mali, Madagascar and Benin in their group. Winning all matches will earn them a direct slot in the semi-finals.