Senegal grateful for fan support as Filipinos cheer on Lions in game against Canada
Maurice Ndour said the cheers from the home fans in a way helped them get going against Canada. Jerome Ascano

SENEGAL was surprised by the fan support as they played away from home, and awed by the Filipinos’ love for the sport of basketball.

As home fans waited for Gilas Pilipinas’ match against New Zealand, they cheered on Senegal in its match against Canada in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Coming from Europe, I was really surprised because I knew something today. The public can enjoy the game and not only the colors. The players were very thankful. Thank you for the support,” said Porfirio Fisac De Diego, Senegal’s Spanish coach, through a translator.

The Senegal squad got a warm reception from the Filipino fans, perhaps because of the possibility that Gilas Pilipinas will face Canada if they sweep the preliminary round of the competition. They did just that as Canada took the top-seed of Group A with a 58-55 win over Senegal.

[See Canada stays perfect with close win over Senegal, seals place in OQT semifinals]

There was even a time in the late stage of the match were Canada’s Cory Joseph was jeered while taking a trip to the free throw line although the crowd quickly cheered when team manager and former two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash was shown on the big screen.

Senegal was pleased to get the support of the crowd.

“That was really incredible. I didn’t expect that at all... That kinda get us into the game,” said Senegal player Maurice Ndour, who topscored for his team with 16 points.

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