Bahrain step up preparations for Gulf basketball
Bahrain have stepped up preparations for the Gulf Basketball Association (GBA) Men’s National Team Championship 2019 scheduled to take place from November 23 to December 1 in Kuwait City. The nationals are currently training for the competition at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam. They have just returned from an overseas camp in Serbia, supervised by Bahrain’s recently signed Serbian head coach Darko Russo.
Russo is in the early weeks of his stint at the helm of the squad after taking over for Spanish coach Josep “Pep” Claros, who had suddenly resigned from his post. Russo is a highly regarded veteran tactician who has been coaching for over 20 years. He had led the then-Yugoslavia national team to the bronze medals of the 1999 Fiba European Championship with a team that included popular former NBA players Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. There is currently a roster of 13 players preparing for the competition under Russo.
They include Bader Abdulla Malabes, Mohammed Buallay and Ali Shukrallah from national champions Muharraq; Ahmed Aziz, Ahmed Najaf, Ahmed Salman, Mustafa Hussain, Muzamil Ameer and Mohammed Ameer from Manama; Subah Hussain from Riffa; Hesham Sarhan and Mohammed Qurban from Ahli; and naturalised big man CJ Giles. Bahrain Basketball Association president Talal Kanoo visited the team’s practice session and followed up on their preparations. He expressed his confidence in the players and their abilities and wished them the very best for the tournament.
The squad is scheduled to leave for Kuwait City on Thursday. Five teams are competing in the event, including Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and hosts Kuwait. Bahrain will be opening their campaign against the Emiratis on November 23. It is scheduled for a 5 pm tip-off. Saudi then face Kuwait in the evening’s other game at 7 pm. Following this, Bahrain faceoff with Qatar on November 24 before having a rest the next two days.
They then get back on the hardwood against Saudi on November 27 before facing the host Kuwaitis on November 28 in their final preliminary round assignment. After the single round-robin, one team will be eliminated while the top four move on to the knockout semi-finals. In the final four, scheduled for November 30, the top-ranked squad take on the fourth seeds, while team number two battle team number three.