Iraq junior basketball team faces tough group in Asian Championship

An Iraqi basketball player from Duhok vies for the ball with a player from Kazakhstan at the FIBA Asian Champions Cup last year. [Mohammed Dabbous / Reuters]

An Iraqi basketball player from Duhok vies for the ball with a player from Kazakhstan at the FIBA Asian Champions Cup last year. [Mohammed Dabbous / Reuters]

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Sports officials said the Iraqi junior basketball team has a tough road ahead of them at the Asian Championship, after the team was placed in a difficult group.

The championship will begin in Vietnam on October 18th. Iraq will play in Group C with South Korea, Uzbekistan and Lebanon.

Secretary of the Iraqi Central Basketball Federation Khaled Nejim said these teams "are very strong and possess high levels and capabilities in the game".

"However, the federation has met all the needs of the junior team in order to develop their skills," he said. "We seek to confirm our excellence through the junior team, which is seen as the future of basketball because of the good and distinguished players who play in its lines."

Nejim said the federation has introduced Iraqi players to internal and external training camps with the aim of developing their skills and helping them acquire additional experience to take part in the coming championships.

"The game federation has confidence in the capabilities of its players," he said. "They will be able to achieve positive results. I myself expect that they will qualify to the quarter-finals in the Asian event."

Iraqi junior basketball team coach Mohammed al-Najjar is also confident the team will do well. "Our chances in the Asian championship are good, although our task is tough," he said.

Al-Najjar said the Iraqi team is working hard with the coaching staff to reach full preparedness before the start of championship.

"Iraqi basketball has a strong young team and we can benefit from its players by refining their skills and raising their capabilities," he said. "This is the future team for Iraqi basketball."

Al-Najjar stressed the importance of developing basketball in Iraq by holding championships for all age groups in provinces across the country, and by developing the infrastructure for holding championships and training sessions by preparing suitable halls.

"Infrastructure has a role in developing Iraqi sports," he said. "I think the latest step by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which prepared an indoor hall at the youth complex in Baghdad, is positive and will provide a venue for hosting national teams, including the junior team."

Mohannad Abdul Sattar, member of the basketball federation, said the Iraqi team has highly-skilled players.

"Our team has big chances to make important achievements, especially as our team has players who enjoy high levels and are thus qualified to represent Iraq," he said.

The Iraqi junior basketball team won first place in the West Asian Championship held in Erbil a few months ago.

In the coming Asian Championship, Group A is comprised of China, India, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei; Group B includes Iran, Qatar, Japan and Saudi Arabia; and Group D includes the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.






    The field of sports in Iraq is suffering from great neglect by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Olympic Committee, as well as central unions of all kinds of sports. All kinds of sports in Iraq are suffering from great shortcomings that might be the reason behind the deterioration in the performance of our national teams and the clubs that represent Iraq in international tournaments. Sport is no longer a simple matter as it used to be. Sports today involve great competition and support given by the highest ranks in the state. Support is now given by the countries’ heads and presidents. We hope sports are embraced and supported in Iraq by the officials and the Iraqi government, which should allocate a sufficient budget to develop sports in the country and to provide infrastructures for all kinds of sports, in order for Iraq to come back to the front once more and to be able again to host championships, competitions and tournaments, just like the countries of the Gulf. What is the problem with building one or two sports cities in Iraq, with playing fields, halls and indoor halls and with a good coaching staff? What is the problem with supporting our players and our national teams’ participation in all international tournaments? This will be a reason for interaction and enhancing the players’ experience. Believe me, we have outstanding energies and players; but they need support. If support is available, we will find that Iraq will always go back to the first ranks and will win all the tournaments in which our players will participate, because they are known for the genuine Iraqi zeal in competitions, as they compete fiercely and strongly to raise the name of Iraq up high in all international forums. Thus, I call on the government and the ministry to work hard to support all kinds of sports in Iraq.