PARIS (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - If Senegal’s Maleye Ndoye represents his country at FIBA AfroBasket 2017, he will make his eighth straight appearances in the history of the tournament.
The Senegalese sharpshooter, who turned 36 last month, will not want to stop there, either.
The prospect of playing in front of his fellow Senegalese - when FIBA’s new competition system come into effect from November next year - gives Ndoye reasons to carry on wearing Senegal’s green jersey.
“We had a discussion with the federation about the new competition system before the OQT. I thought it’s a game-changer for African basketball. FIFA [International Football Federation] already uses this qualification system throughout the year, and I believe it can work in basketball, also.”
Over a four-year cycle from 2017 through 2021, national teams will play regular home and away games to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the 2021 FIBA Continental Cups.
“Can you imagine how crazy it’s gonna be to play in front of our fans?,” Ndoye asked.
“During our practice sessions in Dakar for the OQT (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila), fans packed the stadium to see us. I am excited about the new competition system. I really can’t wait for it to start. It’ll be great for fans to see us live taking on some big African teams.”
Other reasons for Ndoye to keep on playing for his country, he admits, is the dream of helping Senegal next year win their first continental trophy since 1997.
“The talent is there,” Ndoye says.
“Even playing without Gorgui (Dieng) and Mohammad (Faye) [at OQT] we managed to compete. The new coaching staff put the team in a good position for the future.
“[Porfirio Fisac] gave the team a vibe that we needed to be able to compete against Turkey and Canada. He created a great atmosphere and gave everybody an opportunity.”
It remains to be seen if Fisac remains in charge, but Ndoye hopes that he does.
“I know the federation and coach Fisac are yet to come to terms, but to me, he needs to stay,” he said.
“I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to represent my country at such high level for so many years. I still feel the passion and energy to bring the African championship to our nation. And with those two guys on the team, I believe we have to stay optimistic for the future.”