While waiting for a call-up from the Denver Nuggets, Senegal national player Hamady N’Diyae intends to lead Mighty Sports to a second straight championship when the Philippine representative competes this September 21 in the 2016 Merlion Cup in Singapore.
The seven-foot big man arrived Wednesday and immediately joined the team’s first practice the next day at Nega gym in San Juan.
“For me, it’s just a pleasure to be back in the Philippines, one of my favorite countries. They always showed me love, and I always give my best when I’m on the court,” a beaming N’Diyae told FOX Sports before the team’s first practice under coach Charles Tiu.
The 30-year-old N’Diyae is fresh from a workout with the Nuggets just last week, hoping he could make an NBA comeback after a short stint with the Washington Wizards in 2012.
The shot-blocking big man said he’s at the best shape of his career, having played all year round with stints that started with Mahindra in the PBA Governors Cup last season, the Bnei Hertzeliyya in the Israeli League, the Senegal national team in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila last July, before leading Mighty Sports to an eight-game sweep of the William Jones Cup.
Expectations are high for Mighty Sports to dominate the six-nation tournament in Singapore, something that N’Diyae is ready to face head on.
“I enjoy being out here (Manila), the vibe and the fans, I’m looking forward to this tournament (Merlion Cup) and absolutely, it’s gonna be a lot different than the Jones Cup for sure and everything is gonna be different,” shared N’Diyae, who averaged 2.4 blocks in the Israeli League this past season.
Unlike in the Jones Cup where Mighty Sports paraded eight imports, in Singapore, each team is only allowed to tap three reinforcements.
Former NLEX import Al Thornton will be back to play for Mighty Sports, along with 2016 Jones Cup MVP Dewarick Spencer.
“I know it’s not the same team we had because we have a lot of new pieces that we got to get together, and the tournament will have a lot of better competition,” he said.
Nonetheless, the soft-spoken Senegal center expects a lot of help from the locals led by PBA D-League standouts James Martinez and Gelo Alolino and former PBA Fil-Am forward Jason Deutchman.
“It (Merlion Cup) should be a lot more interesting but the ball will surely circulate,” he said, who is expected to provide the solid defensive presence for Mighty Sports – Richard Dy
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