MINNEAPOLIS (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - Gorgui Dieng wants to be with Senegal this summer when the country hosts Group D return leg First Round action as part of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers.
One of the priorities of FIBA's New Competition System is for countries to host official games and thus give fans an opportunity to watch their national side in meaningful competition.
Dieng, who plays in the NBA with the high-flying Minnesota Timberwolves, appreciates just how important that is after playing for Senegal last summer when they staged Group Phase games of FIBA AfroBasket 2017.
"That's good, especially somewhere like Africa so people can see their national team play more," he said to FIBA.basketball.
"After being in the national team for 10 years, it (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) was the first time I played in front of my crowd in my own country. People get more involved, so it's a great thing."
The 6ft 11in (2.11m) big man, who turns 28 on January 18, never turns down the chance to put on the national team shirt.
"It's like giving back. When I was young, people did a lot of stuff for me. For me, it's a big honor playing for my country," he explained.
There is also the additional benefit, Dieng sees, of playing competitive games to help him stay in shape ahead of the next NBA campaign.
"It's always good to play basketball in the summer. It's going to get you in great shape coming back here (to the NBA)," he said.
Due to his NBA commitments, Dieng will not play for Senegal when they open their World Cup Qualifiers campaign by taking on Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire and Mozambique in the Mozambican capital Maputo from February 23-25.