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Dieng lauds Senegal, backs them for #AfroBasketWomen title
DAKAR (Senegal) - Wearing a look of a fascinated ordinary Senegalese basketball fan, Gorgui Dieng mingled with those seated next to him and enjoyed as the national women's side made light work of Cote d'Ivoire 77-36 in its first game on Saturday at the ongoing FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2019.
For Dieng, this is the least he can do to come out and watch the ladies make the entire nation of Senegal proud and to do so in the presence of President Macky Sall who like Dieng feels strongly about women's basketball in Senegal and Africa.
Macky Sall takes a photo of the action on his phone
Basketball is so engrained in the hearts and minds of the Senegalese that young or old, male or female, Muslim or Christian, everyone put their differences away and instead embraced the diversity amidst them to celebrate their nation.
He has been in this position before and not so long ago, he was part of the 'Lions' side that played in front of the home fans in Dakar in June-July last year during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers.
In an exclusive interview with FIBA.basketball, Dieng said that, "This is great. I want to thank FIBA Africa for organising this tournament in Dakar. It is very important to support women's basketball. I am here in Senegal. I think it is the right thing to come here and support women's basketball."
"WOMEN'S BASKETBALL IS DIFFERENT. IT IS FUN. I ENJOY WATCHING WOMEN'S BASKETBALL. THE ENVIRONMENT IS GREAT AND WE ARE WATCHING SOME GREAT BASKETBALL ALSO. THERE ARE SO MANY COUNTRIES THAT ARE IN DAKAR RIGHT NOW AND I AM LUCKY TO BE HERE,"
Dieng truly understands what it takes to don national team colours and to wear the nation's expectations on his shoulders - the famous red, yellow and green.
"The fans with the band and the drums show the true spirit of Africans. We should be very proud of Africa. This is very unique and special. As an African, I am very proud," he noted.
"Women's basketball is different. It is fun. I enjoy watching women's basketball. The environment is great and we are watching some great basketball also. There are so many countries that are in Dakar right now and I am lucky to be here."
Senegal, who are record 12-time African champions at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket, come into this tournament as the outright favourites to win and Dieng believes that they have what it takes to emerge victors.
"They have a good team and look very organised. I think they need to get tougher to go all the way. In Africa, it is not just about talent. It is way more than that. Toughness is a big part of it," he added with a brotherly touch of advice.
Senegal take on Egypt in their second tie at this 12-nation competition on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT.