Ahmed Al Mutawa: 'I play to win, there's no other way' - Sep 3, 2011
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Last year around this time, Ahmed Al Mutawa was preparing to move his family from Kuwait to Bahrain, a place all so familiar to Mutawa. This is where he first started playing basketball. Mutawa was recruited by Al Kuwait Club in 2008. There he played a big role in helping Kuwait club secure a regular season Championship and he helped push his team to the Arab Cup Championships Semi finals. Last summer, Mutawa and his agent (LSM) were presented with an offer for Ahmed to return to Bahrain to play for Manama Club. The deal would end with Manama club buying out the remainder of Ahmeds contract with Kuwait Club, leaving room for Ahmed to sign a 3 year deal in his home country. This was a great day for Bahrain basketball, and we expect to see many more of Bahrains talented players signing to neighboring country rosters.
Eurobasket had the pleasure of speaking with Ahmed Al Mutawa (Interview conducted by Corey A. Washington, CEO/President LSM Sports www.lowcountrysports.net ):
Eurobasket: How does it feel to be back playing in Bahrain This is where you began your career, so it must feel great!
Al Mutawa:Yes, Bahrain has always been my favorite place to play, because of the fans that fill up the gym almost every game.
Eurobasket: What were your expectations for this season when Manama expressed their interest in bringing you back to Bahrain? Now that the season is over, was the outcome what you were expecting?
Al Mutawa: Well my expectations is the same for every team I join, I always want to win all the championships, but our outcome was good because we won the Cup and almost made it to the league Championship finals. For a young team I think its a great result and that sets a great boost for us to win it all this season.
Eurobasket: Tell me about your team this year How does Manama differ from other clubs in BahrainDoes the players accept their roles?
Al Mutawa: Thats the beauty of Manama Club All the players know the club's successful history; therefore every player accepts their roles and try to continue their winning ways by playing hard and together as a team. If not, they would not be in our team.
Eurobasket: I know while you were in Kuwait, you played a total different role than what you are playing in Bahrain... Can you tell me how they differ, and how your experience in Kuwait prepared you for this season?
Al Mutawa:I believe my role will always vary from season to season depending on how strong the team is, therefore I always give my best no matter which team Im playing for. Kuwait was a great experience for me, and I got to play with great teammates and awesome imports players like Ira Clark and Andre Pits. Having a great staff and dedicated teammates pushed me to get better every day. I will always remember Kuwait Club.
Eurobasket: Ahmed, throughout your career, you have played in many countries, and against some of the best players that basketball has to offer. You actually played college ball in the USA How was that?
Al Mutawa: Playing in the USA is every international Player's dream, and my experience in College was what really developed my game. The level of talent and love for the sport that I witnessed and experienced in USA is what really convinced me to choose basketball as a career path.
Eurobasket: While in College, all players have someone who they say really influenced their game Who would that be for you? Is there a player or players that you played with or against, that you would love to meet on the floor again today & why?
Al Mutawa: I try to learn from everybody on every team I have played for, But I would love to play with/or against my old college teammates. One of them would be Dwayne Okantey who was one of the guys that always pushed me to stay after practice and take some extra shots. He always pushed me to improve my game. I think that he would dominate if he came and played in the Middle East.
Eurobasket: What does the future hold for Ahmed with Manama?
Al Mutawa: I Hope many more Championships! Ill play for Manama Club for as long as they want me to. Im comfortable here This is home.
Eurobasket: Having played throughout the GCC, you are well familiar with the level of play, and living conditions in these locations What would you say to players interested in playing in the Middle East?
Al Mutawa: I think any player that works hard, and of course that has some sort of talent in the gamecan find the right team for him in this region. My only advice would be to read about the country and culture you are going to play for, like this you can understand more of the culture.
Eurobasket: What do you think about having a GCC draft, for each location? This would obviously include a small camp prior to the draft, giving clubs and coaches a chance to see potential imports in person, and players a chance to see the region and learn a little about the culture before signing. Do you think something like this could bring exposure to GCC basketball?
Al Mutawa: That would be great for this region and I think any idea to improve the Game level in the Middle East is a great Idea.
Eurobasket: Can we get a prediction for this coming season? Will Manama go all the way? Al Mutawa: Yes we will go all the way because I practice and play this game to win, there is no other way I can do it.
Coach Pep Claros continues his success away from Spain, he just took Al Manama the undefeated champion head coach position since less than 4 weeks, but during this 4 weeks he made a quantum leap in the team performance !! he took the team while they were tying in the series against Al Hala 1-1 in the semifinal in the league !! he coached the team in 4 tough game and he won them all !! Another problem faced coach Claros that he had to play 2 of 3 games in the final series without Mohammed... [read more]
Coach Pep Claros continues his success away from Spain, he just took Al Manama the undefeated champion head coach position since less than 4 weeks, but during this 4 weeks he made a quantum leap in the team performance !! he took the team while they were tying in the series against Al Hala 1-1 in the semifinal in the league !! he coached the team in 4 tough game and he won them all !! Another problem faced coach Claros that he had to play 2 of 3 games in the final series without Mohammed Qurban who got injured in the first game of final series but Al Manama finished the series 3-0 against his ex-team. His mission this season didn't get done yet Arab Gulf Championship will start next month, Bahrain will host the competition and Manama is in the Group with Al Shabab UAE, Al Rayyan Qatar and Ittifaq Oman. By winning the league title in Bahrain few days ago .. the 48 years old coach have made the history to became the first coach in any sport to win 4 titles or medals in 4 different continents: Cup Title in Portugal "Europe", 2 championships in Puerto Rico "North America", Silver Medal with Mexico NT in 2010, Liga De las Americas"Argentina-South America" and recently Bahrain League Title in "Asia" .. beside this achievement Pep has been in 15 finals so far with different clubs in 12 countries and 3 National teams as head coach. Catalan coach from Badalona was the first non American coach in NCAA.
Manama were crowned Bahrain Zain Basketball League champions after defeating Muharraq 81-79 in the third final played at the Khalifa Sports City Hall in Isa Town last night. The quarters scores were 24-19 (Muharraq), 19-11 (Muharraq), 22-18 (Manama) and 29-18 (Manama). Manama's sealed their third consecutive win in the best of five series finals to retain the league title for the fifth year in a row. Muharraq led the first two quarters with 13 points difference (43-30) before Manama came... [read more]
Manama were crowned Bahrain Zain Basketball League champions after defeating Muharraq 81-79 in the third final played at the Khalifa Sports City Hall in Isa Town last night. The quarters scores were 24-19 (Muharraq), 19-11 (Muharraq), 22-18 (Manama) and 29-18 (Manama). Manama's sealed their third consecutive win in the best of five series finals to retain the league title for the fifth year in a row. Muharraq led the first two quarters with 13 points difference (43-30) before Manama came back in the third and fourth quarters to win the title. Manama's main scorer was Georgian giant Nikoloz Tskitishvili (212-C/F-83, agency: Interperformances) with 23 points which included four three pointers and 11 rebounds. His teammate Maytham Jameel was also in form, scoring 13 points, while Ahmed Aziz and Mohammed Hussain scored 10 points each. The match was attended by Bahrain Basketball Association President Shaikh Isa bin Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, who presented the silver medals to Muharraq team members and the gold medals as well as the trophy to Manama team members. Courtesy of: gdnonline.com
Manama close in on basketball league crown - 15 days ago
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MANAMA outlasted a battling Muharraq 63-61 last night to take a commanding two-game lead in their best-of-five finals series in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League. Seven-foot Georgian professional Nikoloz Tskitishvili (212-C/F-83, agency: Interperformances) made the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds to go, but then a horrific turnover on an inbounds play by Muharraq cost them their chance of staying in the game. Manama's Hassan Nowrooz was then fouled with just two seconds left. He missed b... [read more]
MANAMA outlasted a battling Muharraq 63-61 last night to take a commanding two-game lead in their best-of-five finals series in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League. Seven-foot Georgian professional Nikoloz Tskitishvili (212-C/F-83, agency: Interperformances) made the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds to go, but then a horrific turnover on an inbounds play by Muharraq cost them their chance of staying in the game. Manama's Hassan Nowrooz was then fouled with just two seconds left. He missed both free-throws, the second intentionally, with Muharraq having no remaining time-outs. Veteran forward Mohammed Hassan was left with no choice but to try and heave the ball full court as the buzzer sounded. Tskitishvili top scored for his team with 19 points. He also took down 15 rebounds and blocked three shots. Team captain Hussain Mohammed (PG) contributed 15 and was eight-of-nine from the charity stripe as the only other Manama player in double figures. Mohammed Kuwayed added seven in the win, while Nowrooz and back-up big man Mohammed Ameer contributed five points apiece. Muharraq point guard Ahmed Hassan finished with a game-high 22 points, including an impressive four-of-nine from beyond the arc, to pace his side in the losing effort. Bahamas import Kadeem Coleby (206-C/F-89, college: Wichita St.) finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks but it wasn't enough to help get their team over the hump. Ali Abbas chipped in with 11 off the bench while Bader Abdulla Malabes had a valiant eight markers. Following yesterday's result and their 83-74 victory in game one, Manama moved one win away from sweeping the finals and claiming the league crown for the fifth successive year. Game three is scheduled for April 18 next week. Last night's encounter was a heated and physical affair. Both teams got off to a rocky start and could barely buy a basket early on, finishing the first quarter tied at 8-apiece. Manama picked it up in the second when they took a 15-12 lead midway through before extending it to a comfortable 33-23 advantage at the half. But just as quickly as they fell behind, Muharaq turned things around and rallied in the start of the third period. They eventually took a slim one-point advantage, 47-46, heading in the nail-biting final canto. Both teams exchanged blows over the exciting closing minutes of the game. A Malabes lay-up gave Muharraq a 51-50 lead, but Hussain answered on the very next possession with a three-pointer to put Manama ahead 53-51. After tying things at 53, Manama went on a 5-0 spurt but Hassan answered with a triple to get things back to within a basket. Later, with under a minute to play, Abbas gave Muharraq a 61-60 edge with a stunning three-pointer in transition and just 49 seconds on the game clock. A pair of Hussain free-throws then tied it for Manama at 61-all, paving the way for Tskitishvili's late-game heroics, which was the eventual winning basket. The game had 12 lead changes and was tied nine times. Manama finished with a huge advantage on fast break points, scoring 21 while holding Muharraq to just three. Courtesy of: gdnonline.com
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