The Lionesses of basketball driven by the thirst for history in the search for the 3×3 Olympic Games

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 3 – The Kenya Lionesses 3×3 basketball team concludes its dream of achieving a first-ever Olympic Games qualification starting Friday morning at the Universality One qualifier in Utsunomiya, Japan.

The African champions will face seven other major teams in the world in the fight for a single place for the Paris Olympic Games in the summer.

Kenya is drawn in Group B with Canada, Netherlands and Australia, and will begin its campaign at 9:50 am against the Canadians.

Coach Evelyn Kedogo says the Lionesses are driven by the desire to make history, despite being seen as underdogs heading into the competition.

“The competition will definitely be tough starting with our group because they are teams that have been in these competitions before. We’re coming in as underdogs, but we’re never afraid to take it from there. “Everyone wants to win and the same thing happens to us,” said the strategist.

He has named a strong team heading into the tournament, with the addition of Victoria Reynolds, who has been playing in Mexico this season. The strategist had to make a difficult decision between Reynolds and Hilda Indasi, who was part of the team that won the African title.

Hoping Reynolds can make a difference

Victoria Reynolds of the Kenya Lionesses. PHOTO/FIBA

Reynolds is the only player on the team who was not in Cairo when Natalie Akinyi blew the buzzer against the hosts to secure the title for Kenya.

“We hope she (Reynolds) can make a difference in terms of her experience because she is used to playing these types of games. I think she brings something to strengthen the team,” Coach Kedogo said.

Reynolds was part of the Kenyan team that competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2022, reaching the quarter-finals.

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The team had been training in Miramas, France, for the past three weeks, with several mini-tournaments beforehand to help them prepare. Indasi and Joy Mupalia of Strathmore were part of the training group in France.

Kedogo says the camp in France, organized by the Ministry of Sports and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) was more than vital for them as it helped them better prepare for what is expected to be a fierce competition in Japan.

The camp in France favors the team

Kenya’s 3×3 team poses for a group photo. PHOTO/FIBA

“The camp in France was really useful and timely. At home it is always difficult to find players in the same place and have time to train without distractions. We had a lot of time to train, discuss, watch videos together and that made a big difference,” says Kedogo.

She adds; “We also had an experience of how football is played in Europe and we had coaches who came and were willing to do things with us and we have learned a lot.”

She says the team will look to set a milestone for the international basketball community in Kenya’s multi-directional approach to sports and that basketball is also an important part of Kenya’s sporting culture.

“In our minds we know why we are here and the dream of qualifying for the Olympic Games. This is what drives us all. “We are excited for what is to come and we will give our best effort,” added Kedogo.

List of lionesses:

Natalie Akinyi, Mercy Wanyama, Victoria Reynolds, Madina Okot

Lionesses group stage schedule

May 3, 9:50 am – vs Canada

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May 4, 09:00 – against Australia, 12:30 – against Holland

The two best teams qualify for the semi-finals