Spain, Greece advance as Senegal stuns Croatia

Updated 02 September 2014

Spain, Greece advance as Senegal stuns Croatia

GRANADA, Spain: Hosts Spain passed their first real test at the basketball World Cup with flying colors on Monday when they beat Brazil 82-63 to book a last 16 berth alongside a Greek team who brushed aside Puerto Rico 90-79.
Both teams improved their records to 3-0 but Croatia's passage into the knockout stage of the competition was put on hold after a shock 77-75 defeat by Senegal, whose center Gorgui Dieng shone with 27 points and eight rebounds.
Having strolled to easy wins over Egypt and Iran, the Spaniards expected a tougher clash against an athletic Brazilian team but they pulled away after a blistering first quarter gave them a 30-14 lead in Granada.
Hitting top gear on the road to an expected final against holders United States, who can seal their last-16 berth when they meet New Zealand on Tuesday, Spain excelled with a hugely entertaining high-tempo performance.
The depth of the Spanish and the American rosters, packed with NBA quality, has made other medal contenders look second best but the host nation's Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol was confident there was still room for improvement.
"It's impossible to play 40 perfect minutes but we were good in terms of intensity and in the first and third quarters we played at a very high level," he told Cadena Ser radio.
Gasol enjoyed another stellar night with 26 points and nine rebounds, overshadowing his fellow NBA stalwarts Nene Hilario, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao who netted a combined total of 23 points for Brazil.
Greece dominated against the Puerto Ricans from start to finish in Seville with four of their players ending up in double digits, while on defense they confined the opposition to just 24 field goals from 62 attempts.
The Senegalese had won just two of 15 games in their previous three World Cup campaigns and arrived in Spain as one of the also-rans with little or no chance of making an impact.
Having upset Puerto Rico after an opening defeat by Greece, however, the West Africans produced the shock of the tournament against Croatia to the delight of several hundred of their fans who danced joyfully in the stands.
"We joked around coming here saying we were trying to make history, but we really had in mind that we wanted to make history," Senegal center Hamady Ndiaye told www.fiba.com.
Captain Maleye Ndoye added: "We rode the wave from (Sunday's win over Puerto Rico) and got another great win. It would be great to keep riding the wave and we will be just as focused for the next game against Argentina."
Croatia coach Jasmin Repesa made no excuses for his weary outfit, who had clearly failed to recover from Sunday's bruising 90-85 win against Argentina in which forward Dario Saric had six teeth knocked out after being elbowed by an opponent.
"We have suffered before in games like this because of our Balkan mentality and allowing Senegal to collect so many offensive rebounds in the first quarter was unacceptable," Reoesa told Croatian media.
"If you play with fire you will get burnt but although we have made it difficult for ourselves, I am confident because our fate is still in our own hands."
Argentina came from behind to beat the Philippines 85-81, European champions France hammered Egypt 94-55 and Serbia labored to an 83-70 defeat of Iran as all three sides stayed on course to reach the knockout rounds.


Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

Updated 21 November 2019

Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

  • FIA is hosting an event alongside the Nov. 22-23 Diriyah ePrix called “Girls on Track"
  • Said Kingdom hosting events like Formula E is vital in boosting popularity of motorsport

RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s first female racing drivers believes motorsport is too male dominated and that more needs to be done to encourage women to enter the sport.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Aseel Al-Hamad said the fact that only 1.5 percent of racing licences are held by women was “a big international issue.”

Al-Hamad, who is also the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said that while there are some women blazing a trail in the sport, more needs to be done by its authorities.

“There are Formula 1 drivers like Tatiana Calderón, team principles such as Susie Wolff and Claire Williams. We also have female mechanical engineers and in all kinds of positions, but they are just a few. 

“We need to use them as role models to encourage more young girls to become like these amazing women,” she added.

Al-Hamad, who has been passionate about cars since her youth, told Arab News that she is a fan of Formula 1 and a highlight of her career was being invited to drive an F1 car, but her driving idol was Michèle Mouton. 

“Because, back then in the 1980s, she competed in an all-men rally championship. And honestly, I don't think anyone did what she did at that time,” she said.

It is experiences like those that inspired her to forge a path for more women in motorsport and lead the way for female drivers in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Al-Hamad, who mixes racing with her interior design business, is one of the representatives on the International Automobile Federation (FIA)’s “Women in Motorsport Commission”, which creates programs and initiatives to encourage more young girls to be inspired by the sport and consider it as a career.

“I won’t forget the day I got contacted by the president of the Federation asking me to join the board of directors, it's great because I have lots of difficulties in my career and it's so great to now build a foundation for these young women and ensure that they won't go through the struggles and the challenges I went through,” she said.

On the possibility of one day seeing a Saudi female world champion in major motorsport such as F1 and Formula E, she said: “Today, it is possible, especially when we are seeing how the government is very much supporting sports and women’s participation in sport. 

“We have just recently started and we're starting really fast. I won’t be surprised to see a champion soon competing in big international events.”

Al-Hamad also said the Kingdom hosting events like Formula E is vital in boosting the popularity of motorsport in the country and the wider region. 

“Maybe most of the people used to watch football. But, today, when we have such international motorsport event, so many people will get closer to the motorsport and understand the rules. 

“And maybe these young generations, when they attend the race, they might get inspired and become fans of motorsport.” She added.

The FIA is hosting an event alongside the Nov. 22-23 Diriyah ePrix called “Girls on Track,” the second time such an event has been held outside of Europe.

“This event is very much focused on encouraging young girls from eight to 18 years old to discover their talents and motorsport, hopefully it will inspire them to consider a career in motorsport,” Al-Hamad said. 

The event will include educational workshops to introduce girls to a range of topics -- from mechanical engineering to motorsport journalism, as well as opportunities to use racing simulators and to drive on a carting track.

The girls will also take part in a panel discussion with some figurehead females in motorsport including Susie Wolff, team principal of Venturi Formula E. 

“We've approached mostly schools and we sent them invitations to have girls register and hopefully they will discover their talents,” Al-Hamad said.

Her advice to young women is to achieve what they dream for, even if they are dreaming big.

“They might have some fears at the beginning, they might think it's impossible. But my advice to them is to take small steps and just think of the steps with time, they will be surprised that they actually achieve their dreams,” she said.

Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Al-Hamad drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with former F1 driver Mark Webber.

Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Al-Hamad drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with former F1 driver Mark Webber. The model goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020. (Porsche)

The Taycan, which goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020, is the most powerful production electric model that the sports car manufacturer currently has in its product range, hitting 0-100kmh in 3.2 seconds.

On driving it, Al-Hamad said: “We wanted to test the performance of the car and it's great that we just arrived ahead of Porsche's debut in the Formula E this weekend.

“I love the handling, the feeling, it's a fast car, it has the same Porsche DNA in its interior and exterior. It is a beautiful car.”