The UAE may face Qatar today in their final second round match at the Fiba 2009 Asian Basketball Championships without two of their tallest players, after Jasim Mohamed Abdulla and Ali Mohamed Abbas Alhattawt suffered ankle injuries during their 84-56 loss to Kazakhstan in Tianjin, China yesterday. Without 6ft 9in Abdulla and 6ft 8in Alhattawt, the UAE would be towered over by Qatar as both teams bid for a spot in the tournament's final eight.
With the UAE yet to record a win in their second round campaign, after losing to China on Monday and Kazakhstan yesterday, they sit bottom of their group. The UAE led the first quarter of their clash with Kazakhstan, outscoring their rivals 21-15, but control of the game quickly switched hands as Abdulla and Alhattawt both limped off court during the second quarter. Kazakhstan took advantage of the UAE's limited manpower, dominating the remaining three quarters 10-20, 14-22, 11-27.
"We started well. We came out fighting, but we lost two of our tallest players before the end of the first half," said the UAE technical director, Mounir ben Slimane. "Already we are a short team and then to lose the two tallest players, it puts us as a disadvantage." Ben Slimane remains hopeful Abdulla and Alhattawt will feature in today's match, which he sees as vital preparation of the 2010 Gulf Cup in Dubai next summer.
"For us this is a very big game," he said. "Whenever we face them it is a very tough game, but we are pleased to be meeting them at this stage. It is important we play against them before the Gulf Cup next summer. "It will depend on how the team recover. "At the moment we are half a team and they are a full team. "Hopefully our speed can make up for our lack in height." firstname.lastname@example.org