ORLEANS (FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers) - Senegal’s Antoine Mendy couldn’t be more motivated to play in the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.
After all, he has tried to play in the FIBA’s flagship tournament time and time again, but against his will, he had to watch from sidelines his fellow Senegalese going up some of the best teams in the world.
Back in 2006, Senegal played in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Japan, but Mendy was nowhere to be seen because, as he says, he was "too young and inexperienced and as a result didn’t make it the final roster."
Eight years later, Senegal returned to the tournament in Spain, where they had their best display in the history of the competition, but again, Mendy “couldn’t make it due to an injury.”
Now, at the age of 33, the Orleans Loiret Basket small forward, faces a now-or-never scenario.
Senegal will open their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers in February 2018 taking on Group D opponents Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire and a team to be determined by FIBA Africa.
"Playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup has been a dream of mine for many years. I hope to be physically ready to help Senegal qualify for China," Mendy said to FIBA.com.
Mendy went to explain what makes him and his national teammates confident for the qualifiers.
"We have to keep the core of the team that played the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Philippines. We were able to build a solid team spirit even though we had a little time of preparation. Now, we have to continue working as a team in order to succeed internationally", he said.
Asked to describe Senegal opponents in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers, the 6ft6in (1.98m) forward said: "I know those two teams played at FIBA AfroBasket in Tunisia , but I don’t remember much about their tacticals. I know that Cote d’Ivoire has a good team, but sometimes they have issues of putting the national team together.
Mendy insists his national team may be coming to an end, but until he lifts the African Championship crown, he won't rest.
"Back home in Senegal, people have been waiting for twenty years to win another African title. The FIBA AfroBasket title is unanimously a goal for us Senegalese. It’s going to be my last FIBA AfroBasket, and that’s why I want to win it so badly,"Mendy concluded.