The odds do not favor Gilas Pilipinas and Senegal getting to face off in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Manila, but there remains that chance.
So the Filipinos would be better off having some knowledge of the many-time African champion, in case they do get to meet at least in the semifinals.
Gone from the team that Gilas beat, 81-79, in overtime in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain, are scorer Mouhammad Faye and rebounding demon Gorgui Dieng. But coach Porfirio Fisac’s arsenal remains well-stocked.
Whoever Fisac picks for his final 12 should give group mates Canada and Turkey some hard times since most are products of American schools and have continued to strut their wares in European and Middle Eastern leagues.
Headlining the 14-man pool Fisac bared is veteran Antoine Mendy, a 6’6 wingman who is a prominent fixture in the French leagues and Senegal’s top scorer in last year’s Afrobasket with an average of 16.3 ppg.
There is also former Ohio Bobcat standout Maurice Ndour, a 6’9 do-it-all forward who is part of Real Madrid’s Spanish Cup champion team.
Veteran Xane D’Almeida and former Milwaukee Panther Thierno Niang are expected to alternate in the playmaking chores, but it should be Ibrahima Thomas who should catch everyone’s fancy.
At 6’11, Thomas can play both the center and power forward positions and could either take it strong to the rim or boom one in from deep.
Senegal’s 14-player squad for 2016 FIBA OQT in Manila: Adama Louis Adams, Moussa Camara, Serigne Bamba Gueye, Cheikh Tidiane Mbodj, Antoine Mendy, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, Hamady Ndiaye, Thierno Ibrahima Niang, Maurice Daly Ndour, Abdoulaye Ndoye, El Hadji Maleye Ndoye, Youssoupha Ndoye and Ibrahima Thomas. Coach: Porfirio Fisac.