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29 January
02 February, 2017
Michael Madanly
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Mission accomplished for Madanly, Syria

AMMAN (WABA Championship) - It didn't look good for Syria three games in their WABA Championship 2017 campaign but the players got the big result they needed to earn a spot in the FIBA Asia Cup.

The team on Wednesday defeated Palestine, 86-70, to guarantee themselves a spot in the Asia Cup, which is to be played in Lebanon in August.

The players and the coach are ecstatic. They will be at the big party in Lebanon, the first time Syria will participate in the continent's biggest event since 2011 in Wuhan, China, when they finished ninth.

The time before that was 2007 and it was then that one of this year's protagonists, Michel Madanly, was a star performer. Madanly signed off from that event 10 years ago with a stunning 33.1ppg average which made him the competition's leading scorer.

He's been pouring in the points in Amman, too, including 21 against Palestine.

"We dedicate this win to all our fans who came here to Jordan with us and to those at home waiting for us," he said. "We came to this tournament specifically targeting a win against Palestine, and we accomplished that.

"We lost all of our three opening games but those losses helped us to improve and learn from our mistakes."

"We haven't reached our full potential yet. We are capable of playing much better but that needs more time, practice and training camps abroad." - Madanly

Syria had actually thrown a fright into Jordan, only falling 78-70, and after a heavy defeat to Iran, Madanly and Co almost shocked Iraq.

They trailed by just three points late in that contest before fading and losing, 66-53. Against Palestine, it was a different story.

"We haven't reached our full potential yet," Madanly promised. "We are capable of playing much better but that needs more time, practice and training camps abroad."

The coach, Hadi Haj Darwish, bemoaned the team's inability to play the entire game against Iraq with full concentration. Syria had competed but not done enough.

"Against Iraq we played well but lost in the latter stages due to lack of concentration," he said. "We played an excellent 38 minutes of basketball in that game but unfortunately the players psychologically collapsed late on."

One victory over Palestine has made that result irrelevant. Darwish believes with one game still to go against Lebanon that Syria have already accomplished their mission.

"We’re delighted to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup," he said.