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Mahmoud Abdeen talks about story behind jersey number, rivalry with Lebanon
AMMAN (Jordan) - From ball-handling drills in the house that has led to some broken vases to watching movies with his family, Mahmoud Adbeen has been keeping himself busy and entertained during these times. Fortunately, he wasn’t too busy to keep him from having a live chat with FIBA Asia Cup and their fans.
Fans can watch the recording of the talk on the @FIBAAsiaCup Instagram account.
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The biggest topic of the talk was when Abdeen revealed for the first time ever why he had chosen to wear the familiar number 0 on his jersey throughout all these years.
"There’s a big story [behind it] that I've never mentioned before," he revealed. "This is the first time. Did you know that in [the number] zero changed the world? It was the last number discovered and it's the most important number in computers and technology and that's why it changed the world. I choose number zero to make a change in Jordan."
Abdeen is a veteran of the Jordan national team, having played in three Asia Cups with averages of 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game on 38.1 percent shooting from three-point shooting. After all these years, he still clearly remembers the first time he stepped onto the court with that Jordan national team jersey.
"It is an honor when you play for the national team," Abdeen said. "I was very happy to play. I was I think 17 or 18 years old, so I was very happy that the coach let me play. I played only for two or three minutes but it's like if I played for 40 minutes."
For his first basket with the national team? Abdeen says it’s a moment he won’t forget as it was a crossover into a step-back three-point shot, a sequence the star guard has been known for over the years.
The 32-year-old veteran has taken and made many step-back three-pointers since playing each and every level of competition from the Asia Cup until most recently at the World Cup 2019 last summer. He mentioned the disappointment of missing World Cup 2010 due to an injury which is what made his last trip to Shenzhen and Shanghai all the more special.
"It was really different for me," Abdeen said of his World Cup experience. "I was really happy. It’s not just about [only] one story, it was a big story that I can't forget. The whole World Cup was like reading a book that you can never forget."
Abdeen is not only well-experienced as a member of the national team, his professional basketball career has given him the opportunity to play the game he loves in different countries as well. Other than being the Jordanian league MVP with champions Wehdat, the shifty sharpshooter has also played in the Philippines and Iraq.
"I think it's really a different experience to play outside your country," he said. "First of all, there’s more responsibility. You will get to know a lot of players and a lot of systems."
"New players and new styles like in the Philippines. They play so fast."
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"In Iraq, they play tough, so there are different styles. It gives me more experience on how to play basketball, especially with the national team because in the Jordanian League we are all the same style. But in the national team [competition], every country has their own style so it helped me a lot how to play with the national team against other countries."
Aside from experiences that have helped him play for the national team, Abdeen even got a couple of fun stories to share, one of which he did so during the chat.
"I have like a really fun story [from playing in Iraq]. I arrived [in Iraq] on Tuesday and the first game was on Wednesday."
"After 2 minutes, something happened. They canceled the game! It was the first time in Iraq history that they canceled a game and it's never happened before. But we played the first two minutes, then they stopped the game, then they canceled it."
"We went back home and everyone was talking to me like ‘That has never happened’! I was shocked."
"But it was really good for me because I was tired," Abdeen concluded on a light note. on a light note.
Abdeen has gone through the whole transition period of being a rising prospect to being a veteran on the team. The game might be a little bit easier with more experience, but that only means that there’s more weight on his shoulders.
"It's really different. It's more responsibilities. It's harder, not only to play the game but you have to be a leader in the court and outside the court. I have to pass on my experience to the new generation, so it's harder. But it's more fun."
As a veteran, Abdeen always has wise advice for his younger teammates.
"[I tell them that] taking care of their body is the most important thing," he said.
"And when we get between the lines, you have to put in 100 percent. You can't just put in 99 percent. You have to put 100 percent and practice hard."
He might seem strict, but that’s only because he knows that the up-and-coming youngsters are a bright group of prospects from Ahmad Al-Dwairi, Freddy Ibrahim, Sami Bzai, Youssef Abou Wazaneh, and Amin Abu Hawwas.
"Seriously, our new generation is amazing," Abdeen said. “The Jordanian players are really talented.
"We have a great League and all the players are in shape now. The new generation is really amazing and I think Jordan is going to be one of the top teams in Asia. We’re going to be hard to beat. Everyone will say that it's hard to beat Jordan."
Nonetheless, no matter how experienced you are, there’s a chance that one can slip up and get things mixed up in the heat of the moment. It happens to the best of us and it happened to Abdeen, too.
"I have a funny story from [Asia Cup 2017] in Lebanon," Abdeen started. "A day before the game against Iran, we were preparing how to play against Iran."
"I was talking with my teammate and I told him how to defend Ali Haider. He told me Ali Haidar plays with Lebanon and that we're playing against Iran, so the team was preparing for Iran and I was preparing for Lebanon!"
It is not too surprising why Abdeen’s focus might have been on Lebanon at that moment, especially since the tournament was being played in Lebanon. Fans of both Jordan and Lebanon know well how competitive this friendly rivalry can get and how much it means to those on the court.
"I love to play against Lebanon. It's so competitive [between] Jordan and Lebanon because we play the FIBA Asia Cup together, WABA together, and Arab national games together. Like we always play against Lebanon. It's fun to play against them."
"Even if it’s a friendly game, it is really important. Us and Lebanon, it's a friendly game but we don't want to lose. Because we are counting every game between us, so everyone fights till the end and all the fans come to cheer for us until the last second."
Abdeen lists Wael Arakji and Ali Haidar as the two current best players for Lebanon. He also lists Jayson Castro and Gabe Norwood from the Philippines as two players he really likes going up against. However, none of them made the list for Abdeen’s All-Time Asia Cup Starting Five though he did have a player from both the Philippines and Lebanon in his diverse selection.
"For the point guard position, I will choose Jimmy Alapag because when you have great superstars you need a great leader in a point guard on the team, so Jimmy is going to be the point guard."
"At the two, it's going to be Enver Soobzokov, the Jordanian shooter. He's one of the best shooters, I think, in Asia history and also he's a great defender. He doesn't ask for the ball. He's different. He takes his open shots his opens the court for the players.
"The three is Fadi El Khatib, he’s one of the greatest and everyone has him [on the list]."
"And four, it's going to be Yi Jianlian from China.
"At the 5, it’s Hamed [Haddadi] from Iran."
Closing things out with the chat, Abdeen wished the fans from all over Asia to stay safe, assuring that they will soon be coming back to play again. Whenever we can all get back onto the court, Abdeen will make sure that you will see that number 0 jersey pulling off his signature crossover into a step-back three-pointer.