Doha, Qatar: The past year and a half has been an important one for Mohamed Massamba Ndao.
The Qatar youngster has been starring for the national team through the early stages of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship, averaging 28.5 points, 16.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game for an average EFF of 36.5. He leads all players in scoring and rebounding and is tied for most blocks per game as well.
It’s quite an incredible leap for a player who was also playing in this same competition 14 months ago also in production and role.
“Actually, I still cannot believe that it has been a year since my first time with Qatar national team last year,” said Ndao, who averaged 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game in 2022.
“Last year, I was, let’s say, a rookie for the national team and this year I am the captain of our team which is a great honour and responsibility.”
Playing in the competition for the second time has given a competitive edge for Ndao as well as Abdulla Yassin Mousa, who is still only 15 years old and has increased his averages from 3.5 points per game in 2022 to 25.5 points per game in 2023.
“For me [and Abdulla] who were here last year, it is a huge advantage,” said Ndao.
Again, Ndao has been one of the most impressive players in the entire competition. Adding to the pride of playing at a high-level is the comfort of being able to do so at home in Qatar. This was also the case in last year’s competition and also the case in 2023 where Qatar’s games are being played at the Al Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall. “It is a great feeling to have a chance to compete against the best of Asia and in front of our home crowd."
Through all of the excitement and joy of representing the country in Qatar once again, there’s a small part of the experience missing for Ndao this time around.
“The only thing missing is my brother Moustapha,” said the younger Ndao, referring to his 18-year-old brother who averaged 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game for the U16 team in 2022.
Making the senior national team is a common goal among the players at the U16 Asian Championship. But for the young Qatar team, it seems even more desirable with the next edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2017 will be hosted in Doha.
“I hope to play there and play with my teammates in front of our people. We all envision how it will be to enter the court and play against the best of the world. It will be a great tournament and Qatar will be the best host.”
“The future I believe will be bright if we all continue to work hard. We are growing together and I hope that all of us will play at the World Cup 2027 to represent our country. My goal is to make it and be among the 12 players.”
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