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Bahrain Basketball Association pushing hard to build on recent success for youth program

MANAMA (Bahrain) – The Bahrain Basketball Association (BBA) are pushing hard to raise the level of the program to become among the best in Asia. It’s a process that will take time to develop and the BBA acknowledge that. That’s why they have been putting plenty of effort into strengthening Bahrain’s youth teams; an effort that has already started to produce results.

“We have a vision and a goal to be one of the top teams in Asia in the future,” said Shaikh Isa bin Ali bin Khalifa, President of the BBA. “In order to achieve this, we must start by developing our young generation and allowing them to compete at the highest level either technically or physically. Our positive performance in the FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Bangkok last year encouraged us to support our youth teams even more and provide them with the best environment to show their talent.”

The Bahrain Men’s U18 squad, who had only made their 2nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship appearance in 36 years, made it all the way finish with their highest standing ever since 1982. They took a strong Japan team into overtime and beat regular Asian powerhouses like Chinese Taipei and Korea along the way.

“Our youth teams achieved plenty during these past few years. Most recently, our U18 team finished 7th place in the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship in Bangkok and were close to qualifying for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup," Khalifa said. “We also achieved 2nd place in the 2018 U18 Arab Championship in Egypt and also finished 1st place in the 2018 U18 GBA Qualifiers. We feel we can build on this success and achieve historic memories for Bahrain basketball.”

This is not a flash in a pan situation. The BBA have planned and put in hard work to develop these players for the future. Through consistent competition and support, the BBA are determined to turn this into success in the long run.

“The approach in which we conducted our youth set-up is by having our youth national team participate more often, playing more games against tougher opponents,” Khalifa explains. “Bahrain’s size [as a country] helps us in the process of grouping our players, having them play regularly in order to form chemistry and team bonding.

“We have also organized many training camps for our youth teams outside of Bahrain as a chance for them to develop and reach higher standards. Most recently, we established a partnership between the Bahrain Basketball Association and the Texas Legends of the NBA G-League.

“This partnership allows us to send 5 Bahraini youth players to training camps in Texas, under the supervision of the Texas Legends. Moreover, the partnership also includes coaches of the Texas Legends coming to Bahrain and organizing coaching clinics to develop our young coaches.”

Not only will these young players get a chance to train at a high-level, they will also get a chance to play against older players, some of whom are the best in the country. It’s all part of the plan.

“There are many ways in which the Bahrain Basketball Association have achieved in order to create the best environment possible for our young athletes to develop. For example, our U18 National Team participates in the First Division League. This allows them to compete against better opponents and it raises their technical and physical attributes gradually.

“There are also studies to include a ‘Bahrain B National Team’ in the league to give chances to players who are talented but do not have the chance to develop due to some technical aspects.”

Promising prospects like Mustafa Rashed, who averaged 20.4 points per game at the U18 Asian Championship, and Muzamil Hamoda are already standing out in the region. All the BBA has to do now is maintain their level of effort to develop these talents and keep them together and in tact.

(Mustafa Rashed)

“The level of our youth teams have been exceptional during the past few years. Our recent performances in regional and international competitions indicate that we are moving in the right path.

“However, we must not rest on our laurels and let this talented group of players slip away. We must also focus on our U16 national team and make sure that this generation of players can keep up their high standards that we are capable of achieving.”