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From Canada back to Iraq: Diar Abdul Allah hopeful for important national team debut
BAGHDAD (Iraq) - The pressure is piling on for Iraq heading into the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers. Two straight losses have pinned them in a corner, sitting along at the bottom of the standings.
Therefore, these two upcoming games are going to be highly important to their Asia Cup 2021 qualification hopes, especially the game against Bahrain. Therefore, Iraq have lined up a talented selection of 14 players in the pool in search of their first victory.
“I’m honored to be able to represent Iraq basketball and I hope to make them proud.”
Among those players are familiar faces like Demario Mayfield, Hassan Abdullah, and Mohammed Al-Khafaji. However, there’s also a new name on the list that fans might want to turn their attention to: Diar Abdul Allah.
Though Diar was born in Baghdad, he grew up and developed his basketball skills in Canada ever since he was young. Now, he’s back in Iraq and highly anticipating his national team debut.
"Both of my parents are Iraqi and I was born in Baghdad Iraq but moved to Canada when I was one year old," Diar explained. "I started playing because my dad was a huge basketball fan and started taking me to outdoor courts when I was six years old."
Diar boasts experience of playing in the high school (St. Thomas More and Oakville prep) and collegiate level of Canada (Ryerson University), whether it was at school or on travelling teams (Hoops Canada). In the upcoming weeks, he’s expected to finally play for the national team.
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"The process of me coming to Iraq was a long one, but the staff of the national basketball team worked very hard and made it possible for me to be here."
Diar might have moved abroad to Canada ever since he was young, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t keep tabs on the national team of his home country.
"I knew a lot about Iraqi basketball growing up. I would always watch the IBA games and the national team games," he said. "I like how Hassan and Demario play on the national team. They are two guards with different styles that I’ve learned a few things from."
Those two Iraqi stars, as well as his other teammates, have not only taught Diar a few new tricks. They’ve also made it so much easier for a new addition to blend into a tight-knit squad.
"Some fun experiences I have had early on is how nice and welcoming all the players have been," Diar expressed. "It’s never easy to welcome a new player to a team but they have done it with open arms and have been big brothers to me on and off the court."
"The adjustments have just been getting to understand what the coach wants and what player’s tendencies on the team are, so that we can create better chemistry."
"I have been surprised with all of the players skills. Everyone on the team has a different specialty that they are good at which creates a challenge for our opponents."
Those opponents in the upcoming games will be Bahrain (November 27) and Lebanon (November 29). Diar has watched most of these teams compete from afar in the past and now he’ll get a chance to experience the action up close in detail.
"As far as Asian opponents, I don’t really have any specific players I watch. I just enjoyed watching the competitive games and tried to learn something from all games I watched."
This time around, he’ll be the one playing on the court to be watched by fans and youthful prospects instead. For those that will be tuning in, specifically Iraq basketball fans, the new kid on the block has something to say.
"One thing I’d like to address to the fans is that I’m honored to be able to represent Iraq basketball and I hope to make them proud."
"I’m just getting started and the best is yet to come from me."