Follow FIBA on Facebook
DeMario Mayfield honored to play for Iraq
Iraq made waves last year when they finished fourth at the FIBA Asia Challenge and they are setting their sights on making another big jump this year at the FIBA Asia Cup. A big part of their plans is Mayfield, who replaced Kevin Galloway as the national team's designated naturalized player.
Mayfield was born in Carnesville, Georgia in 1991. He stands 6ft 5in (1.96m) tall and played for three different schools in the US NCAA. After finishing his college career in 2015, he almost immediately went abroad and has found himself playing in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The 26-year-old has been a non-stop scoring machine since then, most recently averaging around 29 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and more than 2 steals per game for Al Nift Baghdad. It's no wonder he was chosen to represent Iraq in the Asia Cup, and he isn't taking this responsibility lightly.
"It is a honor and a great opportunity to play for the Iraq national team," he said. "Also, I have became good friends with the local players of Iraq, so it feels good to play with those guys. "
Mayfield will definitely be among Iraq's go-to guys when the tournament begins in Beirut, Lebanon on 8 August. He has good size for this position, and he seems like a speedy and streaky fellow. As productive as he is, however, his focus doesn't seem to be deterred. For him, it's all about getting those wins.
"My goal is to come in and play as hard as I can to contribute to us winning," he said after a touch practice. "It's not about scoring with me it's all about winning."
Winning is something Iraq may have some trouble with at the Asia Cup, especially since they are grouped with perennial contender Qatar as well as the 2 finalists from FIBA Asia Championship 2015 - China and Philippines. It will also be Mayfield's debut at any FIBA event, and that can give the 26-year-old a bit more pressure than usual.
"My expectations are to win and compete hard every day."Mayfield
The FIBA Asia Cup 2017 will be played from 8-20 August, featuring the top 14 teams in Asia joined by Australia and New Zealand from Oceania.
The Group Stage of the tournament will be played in a round robin format, with the sixteen (16) teams divided into four (4) groups of four (4) teams. Every team will take on its three (3) opponents in its respective group.
The top team from each group will then advance to the Quarter-Final, while each group's 2nd and 3rd place teams will figure in a series of Qualification Games to the Quarter-Final. The tournament will be played in a knockout format from the Quarter-Finals onwards (Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, Final).