x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Coach's call to stay focused after respectable loss to China

Putting the defeat by China to the back of their minds, the UAE basketball team are now focused on claiming a winning result against Kazakhstan.

Putting yesterday's defeat by China to the back of their minds, the UAE basketball team are now focused on claiming a winning result against Kazakhstan at the Fiba Asian Basketball Championships in Tianjin, China today. UAE fought a David and Goliath-style battle against the hosts in the first league match of the second round yesterday. With the underdogs expecting defeat by a hefty margin, the UAE team held off the onslaught from China for much of the game, finally admitting defeat in the final quarter.

The margin of defeat was a respectable 82-59. "The players were happy with the way they played. Playing China is a big thing for them, they are a great side," said the team's technical director, Mounir ben Slimane. "We have told them they have to stay focused. "Kazakhstan is a strong team too. It will be a tough match [today]. They played a difficult match [yesterday] and lost, they have to pick themselves up from that and remain focused on the next game."

Kazakhstan will also be looking for a win today, after losing to Jordan 80-98 in their first match yesterday. "So far we are where we want to be," continued ben Slimane. "We have made it into the second round. We have faced strong teams, and apart from the game [we lost] against Lebanon we have been proud of our performance. "We will come to the court [today] with the same fight we had against China. We will try and play smart in defence and control the tempo. When we control the tempo of the game we can control the game."

UAE will face Qatar on Wednesday, in a match the technical director hopes may also offer a decent chance of a win. "We fought hard against China. Qatar is not as strong, so we will see what happens," he said. sports@thenational.ae