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Basketball camp for Islamic Games in full swing - Feb 16, 2005


POSTED BY:
GREG
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The national basketball camp, in preparation for the first Islamic Solidarity Games, is in full swing at the indoor courts of the Army Sports Stadium in Rawalpindi.
Besides attending training sessions and playing practice matches against each other, the 20 camp trainees are also featuring in the ongoing three-a-side basketball tournament being played at the same venue.
Lt Col Naseem Butt, who is also the secretary of the ad hoc committee of the Pakistan Amateur Basketball Federation, is managing the team while Chaudhry Mohammad Bashir and Ghulam Haider are supervising the camp as coaches. All the three team officials are former national captains.
Butt said that the final team would be announced in four to five days. "The boys are working hard in training and it will take us another four to five days to name a 12-member team plus two reserves," he said.
Pakistan have been placed in Group D of the Islamic Games tournament along with Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Tajikistan and Chad. As many as 22 teams are taking part in the basketball championship.
Tunisia and Algeria are considered to be the better teams in the group as they finished No 6 and 7 respectively in the last African Championship held in 2003 in Egypt.
When asked to comment on Pakistan's chances in the Games, the management trio was unanimous in saying that although the national side was shaping up well, they were stepping into an unknown territory. "We have been out of the international basketball scene for a long time now and know little of other teams, so it is hard to say what our chances will be," Butt said.
Pakistan have not taken part in an international basketball tournament for a long period of 10 years.
The last tournament the national team participated in was the Madras South Asian Federation Games in 1995 when they finished runners-up behind hosts India. Pakistan last featured in the Asian Basketball Championship way back in 1993 in Jakarta (Indonesia) where they finished a poor 17th out of the total 18 participating teams and after that Pakistan have never qualified to play in the tournament.
To provide the camp trainees some international exposure, Pakistan also planned to take the team abroad on a practice tour. "We sent requests to Iran and a couple of other countries but unfortunately we didn't get a positive response," Butt said.
Coach Chaudhry Mohammad Bashir said that the camp included some talented players and a practice tour abroad would have done them a world of good. "We have a good bunch of players. So far we have worked on their basics and they have responded really well. If they had had some international exposure they would have been even better players."
The first Islamic Solidarity Games will begin in Saudi Arabia on April 8.
  



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