RADES (AfroBasket 2015) - Gaston Essengue’s national team career has ended on Friday as Cameroon beat Cape Verde 88-66 in the battle for the ninth-place of AfroBasket 2015 in Rades, Tunisia.
Despite feeling energetic and capable of competing at high level, the 31-year-old who last played for Argentina side Ceferino-Alianza de Viedma, feels it is time to give a generation an opportunity.
“Right now, it is time to give a new generation of Cameroonian players a chance to represent our country,” he told FIBA.com.
Essengue, who has played five consecutive AfroBaskets, averaged 2.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in Tunisia.
He wished things should have play out differently, but it is time to go.
“I think the new generation will do really well in international competition.
“It’s up to the [Cameroon Basketball] Federation to put the new generation in a position to succeed internationally.
“Right now we have three players in the NBA - Luc Mbah a Moute, Joel Embiid and Jean Pierre Tokoto, and they could give us a big lift in international competition.”
Essengue began his international career back in 2003.
But, he first came to international attention in 2007 when he helped his county stun almost everyone by reaching the Final of the AfroBasket, in which they lost to hosts Angola.
Since then 2.03m power forward became one of the most recognised faces of the Cameroonian national team.
He also became known for exhibiting his biceps muscles every time a performs a right play.
Now, there is no more, at least with the national team.
“This competition was special for me as I came to Tunisia knowing that this could be my last appearance with my national team,” he recalled.
“I thought it was going to be a good tournament for us, but it wasn’t as we had difficult times to start the competition.
“I really thought that with the mixture of players that we had we could have done something special."
But losing to Algeria in the Round of 16 ended Cameroon's aspirations in the tournament.
“I felt that we could have finished first or second. In the worst case scenario I thought we could have made to the Quarter-Finals, which is when the competition starts.
“But things happen for reason, and only God knows why we didn’t win,” he pointed.
Cameroon closed out their Tunisia 2015 campaign with a 3-2 mark, and finished ninth, which is their worst result ever in AfroBasket history.
But Essengue will relish his memories with the Cameroonian jersey.
“My best memory with the national team was clearly our performance at AfroBasket 2007 as we won the silver medal,” he offered.
“I had good and bad memories while playing for Cameroon, but this tournament was the worst one for me, not only because of the way I played, but also for many other things.
“As a team we didn’t have fun. We didn’t enjoy the game.”
When asked to talked about his AfroBasket experience, Essegue said:
“A lot of people have no idea how fun it’s to take part in the AfroBasket. This is the place where you meet players you once played with or you watched on the TV.
“Of course there have been many complaints about the referees performances, but the whole view of AfroBasket is a good one.
“It’s an incredible feeling when you sing your national anthem,” he said.