MADRID (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Ilimane Diop would be a huge factor in Spain’s chances at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, but uncertainty within the national junior ranks has the center’s status for this summer still in question.
Diop was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2011 U16 European Championship as the fifth-best rebounder with 9.0 rebounds and top shot-blocker with 2.9 blocks for bronze medal winning Spain.
Last month, the native of Medina Gouna, Senegal, played a major role in helping Spain’s U18 team to the title at the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournament (AST) as the only 17-year-old on the Iberians’ squad. Diop led Spain in blocks with 1.7 per game while averaging 8.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
But when asked about where Diop would play this summer – at the U18 European Championship from August 9-19 in Lithuania and Latvia or at the U17 Worlds from June 29-July 8 in Kaunas - Spain coach Juan Antonio Orenga said it’s still unknown.
The Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) has not yet named a U17 or U18 coach with Orenga only helping out and preparing the U18 team before he heads to the senior team for their Olympic preparations.
“We have to decide that. He (Diop) played very well at the AST. He would play very well in the U17. So we have to see if he will be here (with the U18s), there (the U17s) or both. It’s a bit complicated,” said Orenga.
When asked which way he thinks FEB would be leaning regarding Diop, Orenga said: “If there’s a choice…we haven’t made a decision.”
Orenga also said there was no timeline set as far as when the Spanish would name the U17 and U18 coaches.
“We don’t know,” he admitted.
Spain, who finished 10th at the inaugural U17 Worlds in 2010, have been drawn into Group B of the 2012 U17 Worlds along with Argentina, Canada, Korea and hosts Lithuania.