SEN - Sarr: "I think I made the right choices"
DAKAR (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - When Senegal opens training camp for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in the country's capital of Dakar on Sunday 20 July, Saer Sene will probably be at the centre of attention after having missed most of this past season due to a knee injury.
Nevertheless, the team's coaching staff has decided to give him a chance.
The 28-year-old hurt his left knee while playing for Sharks Antibes in the French topflight last October and has been undergoing rehabilitation since.
Meanwhile, when head coach Cheikh Sarr announced his 22-man preliminary squad for this summer's World Cup a week ago, he made sure to include the man who led Senegal in rebounding with 6.7 boards and averaged 1.2 blocks per game at AfroBasket 2013.
"He is part of this team, but he must fight to earn a place in the final roster," Sarr told the media in Dakar.
"It is true that his case is tricky. Saer Sene battled hard throughout the AfroBasket and he was able to play a key role for the qualification. It is therefore the responsibility of the coaching staff to recover him mentally.
"I think I made the right choices," Sarr said.
Sene, the 10th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the then-Seattle Supersponics, joined Antibes last summer, having played for Spanish outfit Fuenlabrada the previous three seasons.
Last year, the 2.11m centre had an excellent start to the season, before hurting his left knee just 11 minutes into the game of Antibes' 69-50 home defeat to Strasbourg.
He averaged 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in the first three games of the season and began a rehabilitation process last autumn.
"This group showed total commitment and cohesion to get to this stage. We can't select everyone. I made up the list along with my assistants and we found it necessary to strengthen certain areas.
"This preliminary squad is based on several technical-tactical factors, discipline, commitment and others," Sarr pointed out.
The Senegalese play-caller also suggested that his team is expecting to play nine warm-up games, including one game against Spain, before the opening of the World Cup.
After the 10-day training camp in Dakar, the team that finished third at last summer's African Championship is expected to hold a 24-day stay in the Spanish city of Malaga.
Senegal will open their World Cup Group B campaign on 30 August against Greece, before taking on Puerto Rico in Day 2. The other teams in Senegal's Group include Croatia, Argentina and the Philippines.