(MENAFN- The Peninsula) QNA
The PeninsulaThe Qatar national basketball team will take part in the third Atlas Basketball Challenge to be held in Suzhou in the suburbs of Shanghai, China following an invitation by the Chinese Basketball Association.
The tournament will be held from July 18 to 23.
The 14-member Qatari team was named on Thursday night after four weeks of intense training.
Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) General Secretary Ali Malki said: 'Our team is much younger than usual therefore it's important to expose our players to global meets. Though this tournament does not affect rankings, it does provide a platform for international competition and at the completion of the tournament we can assess our level.
'We thank the Chinese Basketball Association for their invitation and we are excited about participating with the likes Europe, China and USA, Malki said.
I've been waiting for this opportunity all my life. It was my dream to represent Qatar, says Nasser Al Rayes
Discussing the draw, Malki said, 'It is a terrible draw but it's not important. We are not concentrating on that rather it's a chance for our capped players to develop collectively, find rhythm and cohesion that will ultimately lead to a winning formula before the FWC2019 qualifiers.
National Head Coach Qusay Khalaf is pleased with his team's selection and concurs with Malki saying 'We have chosen the best players based on performance. The Atlas challenge is a good stepping stone and warm up for the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon next month and the WC qualifiers in November.
'Although the competition is in its infancy it provides a high level of playing standards. My team is very youthful but they have great spirit and I like that in them. They will be exposed to prime basketball athletes from the best in the world including USA, Australia, China and Europe and hopefully the boys can bring home much experience, Khalaf said.
Rising star - forward Nasser Rayes who recently arrived from the US, feels overwhelmed at the opportunity of playing for his country.
'I've been waiting for this opportunity all my life. It was my dream to represent Qatar but I couldn't do it before because I was committed to my studies and college basketball in the US, Rayes said.
Qatar has drawn in group B of the challenge along with Australia, Lithuania and USA. While FIBA World Cup 2019 host China is in group A alongside Belarus, Ukraine and Iran.
The Atlas Challenge sees eight teams competing over six days at the Suzhou Sports Centre and the Dushu Lake Arena.
Qatar will meet Lithuania in their first match which will be played on Tuesday, followed by USA (July 19) and Australia (July 20).
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