All Roads Lead to Manila: Gilas Entry #17 – West Asia’s Old Guard (Part 3 of the 2013 FIBA Asia Key Players Series)

It is July 20, 2013 here in Manila, and there are only 12 nights left before the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship Tournament, the first ever held in these parts in four decades, kicks off at the ultramodern Mall of Asia Arena and the historic Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

An air of excitement can be felt all around the metropolis as the promotions for the event continue to ramp up each day. Various signs along highways, advertisements on radio and TV, and promo spots on YouTube have popped up, readying the rabid Filipino populace for what should be the biggest sporting event of the year.

Mahdi Kamrani of Iran should play solidly
in the 2013 FIBA Asia joust.
(image from Taipei Times)

And as the last one-time-big-time FIBA Asia Men’s Championship (the format will change after the 2014 World Cup) closes in, we will take a look at the players and teams who will take part in it. I actually wanted to start with a reasonably thorough team-by-team preview (I mean, honestly, who else is going to do that here in Manila, right?), but seeing as FIBA Asia has not yet publicized the official submitted 12-man rosters of each team (despite the deadline coming and going last July 12), I am forced to look at the players from a different perspective.

In this third in a six-part series, I will put the spotlight on players well in their early 30s from West Asia. These are players who are still persistently chugging along despite wobbly knees. In the last two parts, I will write about the stars who are expected to be in peak form when the basketball version of Thrilla in Manila commences.

I hope that at the end of this series, readers of this blog and fans of Asian hoops will be more enlightened, and that FIBA Asia will finally release the official rosters.

Please lang.

Here we go.


Mahdi Kamrani (IRI)
Specs: 6’1 - 31 years old
Current Club: Mahram (Iran Super League)
Been in National Team Since: 2003
Latest Tournament & Achievement: Helped Iran cop the championship in the 2013 William Jones Cup, getting named as part of the tournament’s First Team in the process.

Mahdi Kamrani and the Iranians want to bounce back after
finishing fifth in 2011.
(image from

Definitely one of the top five playmakers in the whole continent, and that’s already counting the numerous star point guards we have in the Philippines. Mahdi is right up there with the likes of Sam Daghlas (JOR), Yang Dong-Geun (KOR), and Ryota Sakurai (JPN). Maybe a young Jimmy Alapag could be thrown in there, too, but right now perhaps LA Tenorio is a better pick to join that stellar cast.

Kamrani just brings a lot to the table. He has neither the size that Daghlas and Sakurai do, nor the lights-out shooting that Dong-Geun and Jimmy can bring, but he maybe has the best all-around game of the lot. Despite being just 6’1, he can drive strong and finish, while also being streaky enough to hit a few triples if left open too many times. He is also a very skilled playmaker, as proven by his 4.0apg in the 2011 Wuhan games and 4.8apg in the 2012 FIBA Asia Champions Cup.

Perhaps the most underrated part of his game, however, is his defense. He normed 2.2spg for Iran in the 2012 Champions Cup, 1.5spg for Mahram in the Super League, and, most recently, 1.8spg in the Jones Cup. Despite being on the wrong side of 30, he’s still definitely one of the sharpest floor generals in Asia.

Wesam Al-Sous (JOR)
Specs: 6’2 - 30 years old
Current Club: Applied Science University (Jordanian League)
Been in National Team Since: 2005
Latest Achievement: Named the Jordanian League’s Player of the Year for 2013 after leading ASU over Ittihad Schools in the Finals.
Latest Tournament: Played for Jordan in the 2013 William Jones Cup, averaging 10.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.3apg, while making nearly 3 triples per game.

Wesam Al-Sous will carry the cudgels of playmaking for Jordan.
(image from

In spite of being in the shadow of Daghlas for most of his stint in the Jordan national team, Al-Sous has remained a steady contributor. He’s really more known for his streaky sniping, but he is also a capable playmaker and floor leader.

In the most recent Jones Cup, Al-Sous saw a rise in his playing time and shots, simply because many of Al Nashama’s veterans have already retired from international competition. With Daghlas and super forward Zaid Abbas also not participating, the onus was on Al-Sous to be the best local player, and in that respect, as shown in his averages, he succeeded.

Al-Sous will need to be just as sharp in Manila if Jordan wants to advance past the second round. He will have his work cut out for him, though, as guys like Lee Hsueh-Lin (TPE), Tenorio (PHI), Sakurai (JPN), and even Hong Kong’s Lo Yi Ting can give him trouble. At the end of the day, this tournament will really determine if Al-Sous will be able to rise to the elite class in Asia, or remain in the second tier.

Yasseen Ismail Musa (QAT)
Specs: 6’9 - 33 years old
Current Club: Al Rayyan (Qatar League)
Been in National Team Since: 1998
Latest Tournament & Achievement: Helped Qatar win the inaugural FIBA Asia 3x3 Championships earlier this year.

Yaseen Musa will once again try to lead Qatar
back into FIBA Asia glory.
(image from

Anyone worth his salt in FIBA Asia circles should be familiar with Yaseen Musa. When he first started out in FIBA Asia in the late 90s, he was known as the “Dunker of Doha,” winning the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Slam Dunk competitions in 1998 and 1999. He has led Qatar to unprecedented heights in FIBA Asia during the past decade, even helping them reach the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan.

Undoubtedly the best FIBA Asia tournament Musa has been to so far was the 2005 FIBA Asia Men’s Tournament in Doha, where the Qataris enjoyed homecourt advantage. They finished third behind China and Lebanon, and, until now, that is the finish for a Qatari team at the senior level.

Musa, of course, is a big reason for the Gulf nation’s success on the hardwood. He is such a versatile player, able to play both forward positions and even center. He has the size, length, and athleticism to be a threat around the basket and on the boards. The only suspect thing about his game has always been his outside shot, but even then he should not be left wide open from anywhere. If Jarvis Hayes is, indeed, the new naturalized player for Qatar, then Musa might not get a lot of touches in the post. Heck, he might even play behind Hayes, but even if that is the case, he will still be a vital piece for the Al Annabi five.

Ahmed Al-Mutawa (BRN)
Specs: 6’7 - 32 years old
College: Broward Community College Seahawks
Current Club: Al Manama (Bahrain League)
Been in National Team Since: 2003
Latest Tournament & Achievement: Helped Al Manama win the Zain Bahrain Basketball League championship over Al Muharraq in 2013.

Ahmed Al-Mutawa should play for Bahrain in
this year's FIBA Asia tourney.
(image from

Most Filipinos have probably never heard of Ahmed Al Mutawa, but to FIBA Asia fanatics and hoop nuts from the Middle East, he is a household name. He is actually a veteran journeyman, playing for Al Ahli in Qatar and Al Kuwait in, er,  Kuwait before returning to Bahrain in 2011.

The 6’7 banger first played for Al Ahmar’s senior NT way back in 2003, but he has actually never played in the FIBA Asia Men’s Tournament. Bahrain qualified in 2009, but they withdrew before the tournament, enabling Chinese-Taipei to replace them. In 2011, Bahrain qualified again, but a leg injury prevented Al Mutawa from showing his wares.

Now reportedly already recovered from the injury that prevented him from playing in the Bahrain League Finals against Al Muharraq, Al Mutawa should be able to join the likes of CJ Giles and Bader Malabes in the Manila-bound NT. If, indeed, he makes the team and gets to play in Manila, he will form a solid frontline with Giles, giving Bahrain a more than fair shot of advancing past the first round.


Next Post »
1 Comment

i remember this flambouyant musa during abc days in the late 90s. still, the main threat for gilas, are qatar, chinese taipei, and kazakhstan. kayang kaya nila ang jordan and japan, if we base on the result of the recently concluded jones cup.