Back in Manila for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Senegal center Hamady Ndiaye is hoping to see eight-time division world champion Manny Pacquiao whom he considers as one of his inspirations—on and off the court.
The 7-foot Ndiaye, 29, re-acquainted his connection with the Filipino fans on Wednesday night when they dropped a close 58-55 decision to top contender Canada at the start of their Group A campaign in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic qualifiers at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ndiaye initially set foot in the country last year when he suited up for the Kia Carnival (currently known as the Mahindra Enforcer) in the PBA Governors Cup, with Pacquiao acting as the team’s playing coach.
If he could only have his way, Ndiaye said he wants to see Pacquiao, now a newly-elected Senator, during his brief return here.
“I wasn’t able to meet him (so far). He’s a Senator now. Hopefully he comes to one of our games,” he said with a big smile.
Ndiaye, who collected four points, six rebounds and a steal during their recent loss, added he considers Pacquiao “an amazing guy—inside and out.”
“He’s an amazing person and he’s been an inspiration to me,” said well-traveled big man who also made stops with the Washington Wizards and the Sacramento Kings in the NBA.
“When I got here last year, he talked to me and I actually enjoyed pure conversation. I can tell that he’s an amazing guy inside and out. Personally I can only be grateful and thankful that I was able to have that conversation with him and hopefully i can have another before I leave again,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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