SEOUL (2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Korea Basketball Federation President Yul Pang believes the country's women's national team can complete the dream and make it back to the Olympics having missed out at London 2012.
Having reached the Quarter-Finals of the Beijing Games in 2008, it came as something of a surprise when Korea didn't make it to the British capital four years later, but Pang believes Korea could be ready to get back on course.
In order to deliver their ambitions of competing in Rio, they will have to snap up one of the five tickets on offer at the 2016 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) taking place in the French city of Nantes from 13-19 June.
Drawn in Group C with Belarus and Nigeria, Korea will have to show improvement and probably need to punch above their weight to guarantee progression. But Pang is adamant that having initiated the transition process of integrating new players last year, they have the foundation to be able to challenge for an Olympic spot.
"I am quite satisfied with the draw and our women's side is ready for any other team," he said.
Our team was not really that good at the 2015 FIBA Asia Women’s Championship since our head coach promoted a change of generation, putting young players into the team and excluding some veterans. But our team is now in a better harmony. That is why I believe that our players will get us a ticket to Rio 2016. - Pang
Central to their prospects of success will be the incredible skills of teenage star Ji Su Park, who more or less carried the fight solo for her country at the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship.
Having enthused about the skills of Park in the past, Pang is now eager to unload the burden of expectation when it comes to one of the biggest teenage talents in the women's game.
I believe Ji Su Park will be a key player someday soon in the future, but she is still a teenager and growing mentally and physically. I really don't want to give so much pressure to this kid. - Pang
The onus is certainly on the entire Korean team to produce, with their prospects of success likely to hinge on players such as Danbi Kim, Hyejin Park and Ji Hee Yang.
Meanwhile, the impact of potentially making it back to the Olympics is likely to have an enormous effect as Korea look to re-discover the relative glory days of old.
"The Korea women's team was one of the most well-known and greatest team in the past," mused Pang. "I believe that getting a ticket to Rio 2016 will boom up women's basketball in Korea."
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
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