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Egypt's Oraby delighted but remains cautious about World Cup chances
CAIRO (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - By beating Cameroon on the last day of the fourth window of the World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers last month in Tunisia, Egypt bolstered their chances of returning to the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the second time in a row.
The Egyptians currently sit third place in Group E, behind Angola and already-qualified Tunisia.
Yet, Omar Oraby, who has been pivotal for the Egyptians throughout the World Cup African Qualifiers process, remains cautious.
"IT'S A VERY LONG ROAD TO GO. WE HAVE THREE VERY IMPORTANT GAMES IN THE NEXT WINDOW, WHICH WE HAVE TO WIN TO QUALIFY [FOR THE WORLD CUP], AND THAT'S A GOOD MOTIVATION FOR US."
Although he has praised his team's determination, the seven-footer looks at the remaining three games as "three finals."
From November 30 - December 2, Egypt will go up against African champions Tunisia, Cameroon, and Chad in an attempt to secure one of the remaining three tickets still on offer for African teams for the 32-nation FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
With Egypt and Cameroon sharing 14 points each, Oraby calls on his peers to stay focused and avoid euphorias.
"It’s a very long road to go. We have three very hard games in the next window, which we still have to win to qualify [for the World Cup], and that’s good motivation for us," the 27-year-old warned.
Egypt arrived in Tunisia on the back of a 1-2 record after hosting Group C's second leg of the third window of the World Cup Qualifiers in June-July, but they transformed their 'against the wall situation' into a heroic survival moment.
"We proved and showed everyone how we can play, but we still have a lot of work to do," Oraby reflected, adding: "The key [to Egypt's survival] was the spirit of the players. After losing to Tunisia, we knew we couldn’t afford losing two games in a row. We knew if we lost [against Cameroon], that would mean we were going home. There wouldn’t be open to qualify anymore.
"The heart of the players, the spirit, everyone wanted to win, all that showed up in [our] defense", explained Oraby who last played for Gezira in Egypt's League.
Speaking after that crucial encounter, Cameroon head coach Denys Choulet admitted that overcoming Egypt's twin towers [in reference to Oraby] proved challenging.
With nine games into the World Cup African Qualifiers, Oraby averages team-highs 12 points and eight rebounds per game.