#FIBAAsia2015 Contender Preview: Qatar

Amidst all the controversy surrounding Gilas Pilipinas’s neutered roster and compressed preparations, the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, Hunan, China will commence in about a month’s time. 

While our boys struggle to find their form and improve their chemistry, many of our regional rivals are already neck-deep in their training. China and Japan recently wrapped up their European camps, while Iran and Lebanon are on the same continent playing tune-up games. Korea just concluded a series of games opposite Taiwan, and the two are set to butt heads again in the 2015 Jones Cup, which starts in about a week. 

Without a doubt, FIBA Asia is top-of-mind for many people now, and the intensity is only bound to increase as we inch closer to the opening of the competition. With just one outright slot to the 2016 Rio Olympics up for grabs, all sixteen nations participating are sure to pull out all the stops. 

Well, except maybe for our team, which, despite the fact they will play with as much #Puso as they possibly can, will probably reel from having a thin pool of talent and the shortest training time among all teams involved.

Still, in spite of these bumps on the road, the games will go on, and so must we. 

In this series of posts, I will look at each of the ten countries identified as contenders for the 2015 FIBA Asia title. 

In my previous post, I looked at a strong West Asian team, Jordan, but now I’ll pick apart the roster and chances of the top Gulf team, Qatar.







QATAR - AL ANNABI

Current national pool:
Khalid Abdalla Adam - 6’9, 22 yrs old
Mohammed Yousef - 6’9, 33 yrs old
Omar Salem - 6’9, 32 yrs old
Yehia Abdelhaleem - 6’7, 19 yrs old
Erfan Ali Saeed - 6’7, 31 yrs old
Saleem Abdulla - 6’7, 33 yrs old
Shaher Matalkeh - 6’7, 24 yrs old
Baker Mohammed - 6’7, 29 yrs old
Khalid Suliman Abdi - 6’6, 28 yrs old
Trey Johnson - 6’5, 31 yrs old
Hassan Mohamed - 6’5, 24 yrs old
Daoud Musa Daoud - 6’4, 33 yrs old
Saad Abdulrahman Ali - 6’4, 30 yrs old
Saad Abdulrahman Mohamed - 6’2, 19 yrs old
Mansour El Hadary - 5’10, 25 yrs old


Last major tournament: 
- Like most Asian teams, Qatar’s last major tournament was the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, where they were seeded in the second round. Al Annabi swept its games in that round, beating Kuwait and Japan to advance to the quarterfinals, where they were grouped with South Korea, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines. Qatar surprised a lot of people by beating the Filipinos, who were fresh from the 2014 FIBA World Cup, 77-68. The night after, however, the Gulf nation lost to the Kazakhs before bowing anew against the Koreans. Qatar defeated Mongolia and was beaten by China in the classification games to finish sixth overall. 



Current preparations:
- The Qataris went through three phases of training or preparation for #FIBAAsia2015. The first one was a camp in Lithuania before heading to Manila for a series of tune-up games against PBA clubs. One main thing that basketball fans tried to keep tabs on was who would be this team’s naturalized player. They had former NBA player Jarvis Hayes in 2013 and employed veteran Boney Watson last year in the Asian Games. Many expected Watson to reprise his role this year, but the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) went with another old reliable instead, Trey Johnson. Johnson already donned the Qatari colors in 2012 for the FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo, where Qatar won 3 of 7 games and finished in third place.


Daoud Musa Daoud returns to be the team's top playmaker.
(image from FIBA)


Players to watch:
- Trey Johnson, of course, will be the one to watch here. He led Qatar in scoring in 2012 with 17.3ppg while also putting up 5.3rpg and 4.3apg. The 31-year old last played for the Hitachi Sunrockers in the Japanese NBL, where he normed around 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He seems to have lost a step or two in terms of explosiveness, but he is still definitely a solid player, especially at the Asian level. Helping him out will be a slew of veterans: Mohammed Yousef, Daoud Musa Daoud, and Erfan Ali Saeed. Yousef was the one who torched Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games, hitting three triples and finishing with 19 points. The 6’9 big man is a bully in the paint and is a sweet-shooter from the perimeter. Musa, for his part, is a versatile playmaker. He can play the three perimeter positions and is a threat when attacking the hoop or when shooting from long range. Saeed, meanwhile, is a versatile forward who can mix it up in the middle or make stretch the defense by hitting those long toms. 


Erfan Ali Saeed is expected to be a strong presence in the paint for Qatar.
(image by Nuki Sabio/Philippine Daily Inquirer)


Trey Johnson returns to reinforce the Qataris.
(image from FIBA)


Outlook:
- Qatar has a great balance of size, mobility, and shooting. They are laden with veterans, but they also have a couple of young guys to watch out for, most notably Yehia Abdelhaleem and Saad Abdulrahman Mohamed, both of whom played in the 2014 FIBA Asia U18 tournament. There's also Khalid Suliman Abdi, who is emerging as a possible star for Qatar. This team would have been a shoo-in for the quarterfinals had it been in another group, but, as things stand, the Qataris are in the toughest group of the lot. Taiwan, Lebanon, and Kazakhstan will all be worthy rivals, but as long as Al Annabi doesn’t play below its potential, they they should be among the teams advancing to the second round and maybe even beyond.


Khalid Suliman Abdi is expected to emerge as one of the team's leaders this year.
(image from FIBA)

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