Jeddah United-Syriana, Pilipinas-Social vs. Egypt in Intercultural Basketball

Saudi community basketbal team. (AN photo)
Updated 17 May 2017

Jeddah United-Syriana, Pilipinas-Social vs. Egypt in Intercultural Basketball

JEDDAH: From six starters the field is down to four and Thursday’s knockout semifinals will determine the two to battle it out for the championship crown in the 2nd Open Intercultural Basketball Tournament.
Will defending champion Team Pilipinas-Social Café of coach Francis Magat find its best form to retain the title? Can Jeddah United handle the pressure in its bid for a seven-game title sweep? Will there be surprises from Syriana IKK or the Egypt community basketball team?
These are the story lines in the semifinal games pitting Jeddah United against Syriana at 8:30 p.m. and Pilipinas-Social Café against Egypt at 10:30 p.m.
The semifinal cast was set after the concluding elimination round games at the weekend at the spanking new Jeddah United sport complex basketball court.
Though they did their part of the bargain Syriana’s fate was in the hands of Egypt, which surprised everyone when it took down Lebanese community team, one of the pre-tournament favorites, in the second game on Friday.
Thursday, Jeddah United finished as the No. 1 team on 5-0 after beating the Filipinos 72-67 while Hassan Zeineddein’s Syriana trounced Saudi community team 71-58.
The must-win against the Saudis done, Syriana had to wait for the result of the Egypt-Lebanese tiff if they are to continue in the knockout stage of the tournament .
Fortunately for Syriana, Egypt opened the door to the semis as it bravely battled from 20 points down to beat the Lebanese 68-66 in a thrilling game.
The Egyptians tied the game at 50-all to end the third quarter after trailing the Lebanese by as many as 20 points.
A basket from the perimeter by Mohammed Abulmajd and a split free throw by Mohammed Hamdi gave the Egyptians a 65-61 lead with 2:31 to play in the fourth quarter after the Lebanese had closed within 62-61.
The Lebanese were to threaten two more times at 65-64 and 66-65, and with the score at 68-66 to Egypt, time down to 10.3 seconds, the Lebanese had a chance to steal the game but American import Mo Abdulaleem flubbed his free throws, Ahmad Kheir missed a field goal and Mohammed Ziden from under the basket in the last second.
The result put Egypt at 3-2 in a tie with Philippines and Lebanese at 2-3 in a deadlock with Syriana. But Syriana went through to the last four by virtue of the winner over the other rule.
The event is an annual project of Event Manager Mohammad Shobain with support from Consultant-adviser Mohamed Bayoumi, a friend of the Filipino community and recipient of the Presidential Banaag Award.

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019

Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”