Turkmen skipper Gokova sets sights on 3x3 Basketball gold
Turkmenistan skipper Ayna Gokova will settle for nothing less than gold as they head into their 3x3 Basketball quarter-final showdown with the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
Few seats will be spare when they meet in the pick of the games on Saturday 23 September at the 3x3 Basketball Arena (8.30pm).
With semi-final places up for grabs, Turkmenistan's inspirational leader Gokova insisted: “When you play in front of your fans, failure is not an option.
“We were disappointed and angry after the loss to Syria in the opening match. We talked between us and agreed that there is only one way to success – to fight in every game as if it is the last in our life.”
Gokova, 25, led Turkmen to the bronze medal at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Doha, Qatar.
“It is not simply basketball, it is 3x3. It is like boxing," she said. "Just fight and survive."
Meanwhile, Iran's players are delighted by the decision made by the International Basketball Federation in May to allow players to wear the hijab – a head covering worn by some Muslim women – during games.
“We are very happy and really excited to play like that," said Gelareh Kakavanpour. "Thanks to the new rule we can compete outside of our country and show who we are."
Captain Rozhano Mahmoudi echoed her sentiments, saying: “It has been a long awaited dream and I can’t describe my feelings.
“I used to study, to work and to practise in basketball wearing my headgear, but I was not allowed to play internationally. That was unfair not only for basketball, but for the entire Muslim world.”
The eight quarter-final games will be played on Saturday 23 September at the 3x3 Basketball Arena from 6pm until 10pm.
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