The Duhok basketball team is warming up for the Asian basketball club championship in the Philippines at the end of the month.
"The mission of the Iraqi team will not be achieved without difficulty since all the participating teams are winners of titles of local premier leagues in their respective countries," said Khalid Nejim, secretary of the Iraqi Central Basketball Federation. "This makes the championship strong and exciting, and we expect that there will be strong competition between the participating teams."
The championship will start May 28th and run for nine days.
Nejm said Duhok is participating in the championship because they won the local premier league title.
The draw has placed Duhok in Group A with Jordan's Applied Sciences, Saudi Arabia's Uhud, Malaysia's KL Dragons and the Philippines' Smart Gilas.
Group B includes Iran's Mahram, Syria's Jalaa, Qatar's Rayyan, UAE's Shabab and Lebanon's Riyadi.
Fikrat Toma, Iraqi national basketball team coach and supervisor of Duhok in the Asian event, said the team started an internal training camp a few days ago at the hall of the Faculty of Physical Education at the University of Duhok.
"The team will also start an international training camp in Dubai, UAE one week before the start of championship," Toma said. "After that, the team will leave to participate in the Asian event."
Toma noted that the club administration has met all the needs of the team. "This raises the players' morale before participation in the championship," he said.
The team's lineup includes most of the players on the Iraqi national team. In addition, the championship team will be supported with two on-loan players from the United States. They will join the team before they leave for the Philippines. The championship system allows three foreign professional players to play with each team.
"The participation of Duhok players in this Asian event will be a manner of preparation for the West Asian Championship, which we hope to hold in Iraq late next month. Participation in this Asian club event and also West Asian Championship are part of our preparations for the Arab Games that will be held in Qatar at the end of this year," Toma said.
Duhok took part in the 21st edition of the Asian basketball champions league in Doha last year, where they finished in the 10th and final place.
Abbas Khudhair, a member of the basketball federation, said that the Duhok team has all the necessary elements of an ideal team, since they have good players in their lineup.
"The team has good chances to qualify, especially since the group where they have been placed is relatively easier than Group B, which includes strong teams that have previously won the championship title," Khudhair said.