Injury-ravaged UAE suffered a 91-45 loss to GCC basketball champions Qatar at the Fiba Asian Championships for Men in China yesterday. With Jasim Mohammed Abdulla - the UAE's tallest player - sidelined with an ankle knock, a size-restricted UAE side were powerless to stop their Gulf rivals from racing to a 47-12 half-time lead. The UAE tightened up after the break and even outscored Qatar 23-21 in the fourth quarter. But losing the team's tallest players proved crucial; Qatar scored 56 points under the basket and registered 51 rebounds compared to the UAE's 25.
Talal Al Nuaimi, one of UAE's big-name players throughout their Fiba campaign, weighed in with 15 points as his side's lingering quarter-final hopes were dashed. "Qatar played well and shut down our guards," said UAE techincal director, Mounir ben Slimane. "We hit nothing from outside and they matched us in offence and defence. "The players gave everything but this was our sixth game in a row and lots went wrong. Without some key players we just ran out of gas," added Slimane.
The UAE face Japan tomorrow, where a victory will see them through to an 11-12th play-off against the winner of Kuwait and Kazakhstan. Believing "anything can happen" in that match, Slimane said UAE's Far East experience - which has seen them share court with top-tier teams such as China, Lebanon and Jordan - has proven invaluable to his squad ahead of next year's Gulf Basketball Championships. "We have one rest day and hopefully our big guys can recover. We will be ready to fight against Japan for pride."
Qatar's progress into the quarters was assured when Lebanon cruised to a 105-56 triumph over Kazakhstan. email@example.com