NU Bulldogs player Issa Gaye proud to see Senegal raise its profile in PH
NU player Issa Gaye shows his support for home team Senegal. Jerome Ascano

NATIONAL University cager Issa Gaye showed his support for his home country in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament by watching Senegal play against Canada on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Gaye, who spent a few years in NU's Team B who could be next in line for a berth in the school's UAAP squad, was spotted on Wednesday at the back of the Senegal bench to lend his support to the national team.

“I’m from Senegal and I’m the only one player (from Senegal). I need to go here,” said Gaye in a brief interview with SPIN.ph.

Gaye related he has two friends back when he was young who are now members of the national squad in Serigne Gueye and Abdoulaye Ndoye.

“I support them to show that I’m Senegalese. I’m from Senegal, and I’m proud to be here whatever happens,” said Gaye.

[See Canada stays perfect with close win over Senegal]

Gaye is proud of his heritage even as he hopes that Filipinos, who are used to seeing Cameroonian and Nigerian players in local leagues, will also get to know Senegal basketball.

“Nobody knows my country. It’s good that they are here so that the Philippines will know Senegal. Sometimes when I tell people that I’m from Senegal, they don’t know Senegal. It will make me feel better that my country come here and play,” said Gaye.

Even though he has friends playing for Senegal, Gaye believes he is not good enough to play for its national team.

“No, I’m not ready,” said Gaye.

Just like in the 2014 Fiba World Cup, Senegal could face Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba OQT in the playoff round of the tournament. Gaye flashed a smile when asked who he is going to support if ever it happens.

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“I consider myself half-Filipino because I’ve been here for almost four years. But I won’t cheer for anyone because I’m from the Philippines, too,” said Gaye.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports