The Qatar National Basketball team departed for the ancient city of Suzhou, China after being invited by the Chinese Basketball Association to attend the third Atlas Basketball Challenge to be held in one of the country’s traditional cities on 18 – 23 July 2017.

The final 14-member roster for the Qatar national team was named recently after four weeks of intense training. Qatar Basketball General Secretary Ali Malki said that the country’s team is much younger than usual, and it is important to expose them to global meets.

Though this tournament does not affect rankings, it provides 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 to join ranks with the likes Europe, China and US.’

Discussing the draw, Malki said that 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 FWC 2019 qualifiers.’

National Head Coach Qusay Khalaf is pleased with his team’s selection and concurs with Malki.

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 the US, Australia, China and Europe. Hopefully, the boys can bring home much experience.

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.’

Qatar has drawn group B of the challenge along with Australia, Lithuania and the United States, while FWC 2019 host China is in group A alongside Belarus, Ukraine and Iran.

The July championship comprises of eight teams –played over 6 days – at the Suzhou Sports Centre and the Dushu Lake Arena. Qatar will meet Lithuania in their first match (18) followed by USA (19) and Australia (20).

For more information, visit the Qatar Basketball Federation website through this link.