x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Proud coach looks to the future

The UAE basketball team have defied the odds to make it through to the second round of the Fiba Asian Championships in Tianjin, China.

The UAE basketball team have defied the odds to make it through to the second round of the Fiba Asian Championships in Tianjin, China. With one win from three games, a win against Indonesia on Thursday proved enough to ensure they qualified as one of 12 teams to progress to the second round of the group stages. "We came here to qualify for the second round and we did it," said Mounir ben Slimane, the UAE team's technical director. "It is a long time since we have reached the second round in this championship. It has been a very good display from the team. We are proud of them."

Having failed to make an impression at the ninth Arab Championship in Morocco last month, the UAE started on a high, beating Indonesia 68-63 on the first day of the tournament. They struggled against Lebanon on Friday, losing by 70 points, ending the game 108-38. Recovering their focus yesterday, UAE fought a close match against group D rivals Jordan, finally succumbing 79-67. With Indonesia trailing group D in the last place, UAE claimed the points needed to progress.

"We came here, we did the job by beating Indonesia. We played two other very tough games. When we played Lebanon we lost to a better team, but we are not happy with the result," explained ben Slimane. UAE will now face China, Kazakhstan and Qatar in that order in a tough second round starting tomorrow. "China are killing everybody by 70 or 80 points," said ben Slimane. "It will be a very difficult game, but we are going to fight. We might not win, but we will fight our hardest for our country.

"We will play three tough games, but it is a learning process. The team is young. Whether we win or lose, we will learn a lot from playing against teams like China." @Email:sports@thenational.ae