Bahrain takes humility into its first experience of the Olympic Repechage

Bahrain takes humility into its first experience of the Olympic Repechage
Bahrain takes humility into its first experience of the Olympic Repechage

The faces of the leader Jad El Hajj and the basket maker Ahmed Haji They did not reflect any frustration after Bahrain was thrashed 61 points, 114-53, by Italy in the opening game Olympic Repechage at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum on Tuesday.

With their feet firmly on the ground, both members of the team, ranked 67th in the FIBA ​​world rankings, acknowledged the superiority of the European power, ranked thirteenth in the world.

For them, the beating was rather the first time they got wet in the competitive world of basketball.

It pains me to say this as a competitor, but Italy is a team that competes in World Cups and Olympics. Hopefully, in 10 years, the name of Bahrain will be bigger. For now, it is just a blessing and an honour to be here.“Haji said.

Bahrain, who played against Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, are going through their first Olympic play-off.

They arrived in San Juan after winning a pre-qualifying tournament in Asia, with a 5-0 record, defeating Syria, Saudi Arabia, India, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

previa

1 / 6 | Salsa! Italy opens the Olympic Play-Offs at the “Choliseo” with a 114-53 thrashing of Bahrain. Alessandro Pajola runs a play during the clash between Italy and Bahrain.
– Nahira Montcourt

With a team of 11 players with little international experience and a Lebanese coach who joined the program weeks before the tournament, Bahrain recognized from the start its slim chances of leaving the “Choliseo” with a ticket to Paris 2024.

Being in San Juan is already an achievement.

“Many journalists ask me about the programme and, being from Lebanon, I have played against them several times. We know the progress they are making. I hope that in the coming years we will have further growth in Asia and in the world of basketball. We are on the right track,” said El Hajj, who led Lebanon at the last 2023 World Cup.

Of course, this is not going to happen in two days. Nor in one or two years. It is a matter of planning and progress. Today (Tuesday), they learned about the next step in basketball. Today, it is a new beginning for Bahrain basketball.“, he added.

Haji agreed with his coach.

“Even though we talked about keeping our heads up in the dressing room, I told him to look at the scoreboard. For the next generation in Bahrain, to look at the scoreboard and recognise that at a young age, you have to work very hard and be extremely disciplined (to improve). It’s the work you put in early. I feel this is better for the next generation, what they can take away from this. I hope I can be a coach and do good things for Bahrain,” Haji reflected.

 
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