DAKAR (Afrobasket 2011) - The wait is finally set to end for nine Senegalese national team players.
On Tuesday evening, Mouhammad Faye and eight others will travel to France and begin preparing for Afrobasket 2011.
Stranded in Senegal due to visa issues, the players can now leave for Toulon and link up with six of their European-based teammates who began a training camp with new coach Alain Weisz last week.
“I am so excited to join the rest the team,” Faye said to FIBA.com.
Faye, who averaged 17.3 points per game for Senegal at Afrobasket 2009, has never worked with Weisz before.
The 25-year-old big man says he has heard very good things about the former coach of France, though.
“I have spoken to some players who have worked with him and they say he is the kind of coach who knows how to use his players,” Faye said.
“I'm excited to meet him, and it'll be great to work with him in the national team.”
In fact, this may not be the only time that Faye plays for Weisz.
Faye, on the books of the NBA D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season, plans to play in Europe in 2011-12.
“I have an offer to play for [Hyeres] Toulon [coached by Weisz],” the 2.09m forward said.
It’s the national team, and not his professional career, that at the front of Faye’s thoughts.
The 25-year-old wants to get to the Olympics.
In order to book a trip to the London Games, the national team needs to win the Afrobasket, something it hasn’t done since 1997 when it hosted the event.
Faye was just 12 years old at the time.
“Since I arrived in Senegal (this summer), I have been keeping focused on the African Championship.
“I want to help my country win it.”
Should they not win but end up with a silver or bronze medal, Senegal would have an invitation to compete at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament where three spots for London would be up for grabs.
Senegal is the African team with the largest number of players in top leagues around the world but that is no guarantee for success.
“All we need to do is win games and play like a team,” Faye said.
“We definitely have a chance and potential as we have great players.”
Among the high-profile players Senegal would like to select is Charlotte Bobcats’ center DeSagana Diop, but his 2010-11 season was cut short due to injury.
Mohammad Faye contacted him recently.
“He would love to play for us, but he's recovering right now and he cannot play,” Faye said.
“His absence is a big loss for us, but we must understand his condition.”
Regal Barcelona’s Boniface N'Dong, the MVP of Afrobasket 2005, has yet to confirm his presence.
“He would be a great help for us given his years of experience,” Faye said.
At Afrobasket 2009 in Libya, Senegal ended up a disappointing seventh.
Some of the teams problems stemmed from a lack of a playmaker.
“Our big guys can do very little,” without a quality point guard, Faye said.
Faye hopes this won’t be an issue in Madagascar, where the Afrobasket will be held August 17-28.
“This problem is to be solved this year,” Faye said.
“Hopefully it won't happen, what happened in Libya 2009.”
Senegal’s preparations in Toulon are scheduled to finish on Friday and the team will then move to Paris for three weeks.
There they expect to play some African teams who are also getting ready for the Afrobasket.
The squad will then return to their capital city of Dakar for a few days.
Johannesburg will be their last destination before travelling to the Madagascar capital of Antananarivo.
Senegal are drawn in Group B of the Afrobasket and will take on a couple of tough teams in Morocco and defending champions Angola, as well as Chad.