x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Olympic hopes for UAE basketball are fading

Khalil Salem scored 14 points for the UAE, but the national team were overpowered by Japan 101-61 in the Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.

Khalil Salem scored 14 points for the UAE, but the national team were overpowered by Japan 101-61 in the Fiba Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, yesterday.

The defeat leaves the UAE with fading hopes of advancing to the London 2012 Olympics.

The winner of this tournament will qualify for the Summer Games, and the nations finishing second and third will have another chance to advance to London by finishing in the top three of a 12-team global tournament in early July.

The UAE reached the second round of the current tournament by finishing third in their first-round group, but they lost contact with unbeaten Japan in the second quarter as the taller team took a 56-26 lead. Tomoo Amino led Japan with 17 points, and his teammate, Joji Takeuchi, led all rebounders with 11.

A second-half highlight for the UAE side included consecutive steals and dunks by Mohammed Al Braaki, the guard who plays for the Al Ahli club. Al Braaki scored 11 points.

Japan successfully geared their defence towards stopping the UAE's leading scorer, Rashid Al Zaabi, of Al Wasl, who had 21 points against China.

Al Zaabi had 13 points, but he made only five of 15 shots and did not play in the final quarter.

The UAE must finish in the top four of their six-team group to reach the quarter-finals, and they must win against Syria today and Jordan tomorrow to have any chance. Even then, they will need favourable results against teams above.

The UAE's previous best finish in the Asia Championship was fifth in 1997.

Four years ago they finished 16th but are guaranteed to end no worse than 12th in this tournament.

The UAE are ranked No 65 in the world by Fiba.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae


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