DeSagana Diop, sélectionneur des Lions : « Le Sénégal peut et doit faire mieux » - wiwsport

DeSagana Diop, coach of the Lions: “Senegal can and must do better” – Equipe nationale Basket

Former Senegal international DeSagana Diop has taken over from Boniface Ndong at the helm of the Senegal national team. He hopes to succeed in reviving his country in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023 Africa Qualifiers. He spoke during an interview with FIBA.

DeSagana Diop, you have taken charge of the Senegal national team. How do you feel?

I feel very good and I am honored to be the new coach of the Senegalese selection. I look forward to meeting the challenges ahead. I will invest a lot in the process to help the team become better and prepare it for the next qualifying window, which will be extremely important for us and for Senegalese basketball. It has been very interesting so far and I will give my best to succeed in my mission, which is the most important of my young coaching career. Being at the head of the national team of my country is a task that I take very seriously. I want to help the national team win and qualify for the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup.

You replace your friend Boniface Ndong, who was dismissed after the two defeats suffered during the last qualifying window…

When I was contacted for the position, I had to discuss it with my friend Boniface and explain to him why I was grateful to have this opportunity, while confiding to him that I was ready. He is a good friend and I like clarity and transparency with my friends. It was important for me to do this. I learned a lot being an assistant coach of the national team and I will now take up this challenge and invest myself to achieve it. I will give everything to make my country competitive and bring pride to everyone.

Senegal lost two games – against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt – in the last qualifying window, a rather average performance for one of the dominant nations in African basketball.

These two defeats were hard to accept and I am convinced that we can do much better than in July. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward to be ready for the next round, which will be crucial for us, because we are not in an ideal position. I always tell the players that we have to move forward. We have to focus on our next games and play them with a fighting spirit. We are on a mission, we want to be successful and win games to qualify for the next FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup. We deserve our place there, it’s up to us to prove it at the end of August. We have no other option but to win.

What is the philosophy you want to instill in the national team?

I was a very defensive player, so the priority will be to bring great defensive intensity to make it our trademark. Our sport is more and more physical and it is in defense that the victories take shape. It’s very, very important to be effective in defense because the next games will be crucial to maintain the hope of participating in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023. We are not in the position we would have liked to be in, we So we have to change our dynamic and win again. To succeed in turning the situation around, we have to defend hard and give our all on the pitch.

South Sudan, Tunisia and Cameroon are your next opponents. What do you think of these teams?

They are excellent and we will have to practice our best basketball to beat them. South Sudan are top of the group and have been impressing since the start of these Qualifiers, having won all of their matches. He has improved enormously and he displays unfailing confidence. It’s a very good team. Tunisia is one of the dominant nations on the continent and has a great deal of experience. Cameroon still hope to qualify, so we will have to be very focused and play well. All our adversaries aspire to represent Africa at the world tournament. The next six games will be particularly intense, but we will be ready for these next challenges in order to earn the right to participate in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023.

For starters, you’ll face South Sudan on August 26.

We’ll be up against the best team in the group right from the start, so we’ll be right in the thick of it. We will have to be mentally ready to fight, but I am confident in our abilities. This team is playing very well and both Luol Deng and the coaching staff have done a tremendous job over the past two years to put together such a successful national team. We want to be up to it and we will prepare as well as possible for this meeting.

Senegal have long been among the best teams on the African continent. How do you feel about Senegal’s current position as they head into the final two qualifying windows for the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023?

We know we are capable of better and we will show it. It is useless to rethink the past, we must project ourselves into the future. Senegal belongs to the best continental nations and it must always be competitive and qualify for all major tournaments. We want to participate in the next FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup and we will fight to be there. Believe me, we absolutely intend to take part. We want to bring pride to our compatriots and prove that we have one of the best teams in Africa.

When you see countries like South Sudan, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Uganda for example, which have come a long way in recent years, how do you assess the current dynamics of African basketball?

I really like what I see and I’m very happy that so many teams are doing so well. This is great news for African basketball and shows that there is talent everywhere. The level of competitiveness has grown enormously and that is very good for everyone in Africa. This is a promising sign for the future. Qualification for international competitions will be increasingly difficult. African basketball is progressing from year to year and we can only rejoice in the current trend.

By FIBA

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