Essengue to lead Cameroon in AfroBasket 2015 qualifier against Republic of Congo
YAOUNDE (AfroBasket 2015) - Gaston Essengue is expected to play a key role for Cameroon this weekend (20-22 February) when they seek to overcome the Republic of Congo and secure a place at AfroBasket 2015, which will take place in Tunisia from 19 to 30 August.
As a result of the withdrawal of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, the two-game FIBA Africa Zone 4 Group F qualifier will take place this Friday and Sunday at the Palace Multi-purpose Sports in Yaounde.
Essengue, who plays for Argentinian side Alianza Viedma Rio Negro in Torneo Nacional de Ascenso de Básquet, has missed out a significant part of the team's preparations. However, head coach Louis Tsoungui insists he is a valuable addition to his team.
The 31-year-old power forward will be the only player in the Cameroon squad who featured at AfroBasket 2013. The other 11 players from the side that came in fifth in Abidjan two years ago remained committed to their professional clubs elsewhere.
Gaston is an emblematic player for our national team, he is our leader. - Tsoungui
"Any contribution from Gaston is always welcome. We hope Gas can make an impact for us, and I am happy to have him in the team," Tsoungui said to FIBA.com
Tsoungui, who replaced his countryman Lazare Adingono as the person in charge of Cameroon, knows what to expect from the Republic of Congo.
After all he coached the Republic of Congo at the continental championship in 2013.
"It is going to be difficult for us because they know my tactics and I know theirs. But I am looking forward to the challenge," he pointed out.
"They are a talented team and I know they are bringing a few players based in France.
"For us, the only problem is that some of the players will not have much training time with the team. Hopefully we can manage it and come home with a win.
"I wanted to have Frank Tchoubaye Bakala in the team as well, but he had some issues with his club in Egypt, and he can't join us."
Cameroon will face Congo with a team made up mostly of local players.
One of the locally based players that coach Tsoungui is relying on is Samuel Soup, described as a skilful swingman with enormous potential.
"He is strong, has a good game reading, and keeps getting better and better everyday."
Congo finished 14th at AfroBasket 2013 and are now looking to achieve a second consecutive appearance.
The hosts of the 2015 All-African Games have made changes of their own, appointing Frenchman Stephane Paty to coach the team.
This qualifier coincides with a visit of FIBA Africa officials who will check the progress of Cameroon hosts duties of the AfroBasket Women 2015.
Cameroon squad for AfroBasket 2015 qualifier against Republic of Congo: Seoud Njoya, Taku Sama, Charles Sibetcheu, Felix Bogmis, Chris Kuete, Steve Mbog, Naha Harding, Gaston Essenge, Michel Ipouck, Samuel Soup, Stephane Kamagou and Simon Bileg.