Mali women’s national basketball players Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou got into a fight following an 81-68 loss to Serbia in the women’s basketball World Cup. In a video that has gone viral, the two players are seen in the mixed media zone following the game throwing punches before they are separated by teammates.
The scuffle was brief and caught on video by Serbian reporters who were conducting an interview of one of the Serbian players in the mixed zone.
Kourouma and Dabou have since apologized.
Team: “We’re here to apologize for the images that were going on social media,” Kourouma, sitying alongside Dabou, told reporters on Tuesday. “It was not our intention and we were frustrated because of the loss. We are here to apologize to the world of basketball (and the) FIBA World Cup.”
Mali was a late entry to the FIBA World Cup, replacing Nigeria, which had administrative issues. Unfortunately they played their final tournament game on Tuesday, and 88-65 loss to Canada. Mali went winless in Group B.
Kourouma averaged five points and four rebounds per game for the tournament, while Dabou averaged four points and one rebound per game.
FIBA has opened an investigation to determine if the two players will face any punishment. The Mali basketball federation will likely weigh in as well.
Getting blown out on a big competition stage is no fun. No doubt the Mali team was frustrated and embarrassed. Sometimes those feelings bubble over and teammates fight.
This isn’t unique to Mali or women’s basketball. This happens all the time in sports. Sometimes it comes out via media, sometimes it is caught on video. Many times fans and the media never hear about it because it is kept in house.
Meanwhile the No. 1-ranked Team USA dominated Group A, going 5-0. Led by Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson, the women’s national team is looking to claim the United States’ 11th World Cup title overall and fourth straight.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy; we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together, and we play together very, very well.”
The U.S. women’s national team are on a 27-game winning streak in FIBA World Cup play. Their last loss was in the semifinal round in 2006 to Russia.
“It’s kind of amazing,” said Stewart, who has been part of the past three World Cup teams. “Obviously, been here for some of it, but you understand the legends before that who really kind of started the streak. It goes to show that no matter who is playing on USA Basketball, we’re always trying to chase excellence.
“This streak doesn’t mean much right now because we’re going into the quarterfinals and focusing on winning a gold medal, but it’s something to kind of hang your hat on later.”
Team USA plays in the quarterfinals on Thursday against Serbia.
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