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08 - 16
August 2014
14. Anas OSAMA (Egypt)
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EGY - FIBA U17 Worlds experience leads Egyptians to great things

LOUISVILLE (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Some people might look back at Egypt's last-place and winless run at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and think it was a poor performance.

But in actual fact, it represented a huge step in the development of perhaps the greatest generation in Egyptian basketball.

The biggest indication of this might be the journey of Anas Osama Mahmoud. He went from being a long, wiry and bouncy big man with promise but who offered only mild production two years ago, to now getting ready for his freshman season at the elite college program at the University of Louisville, which won the NCAA title in 2013.

"Me going to Louisville is a great thing for Egyptian basketball. All the players from Egypt are keeping contact with me," said the player who averaged 5.4 points. 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.6 steals for Egypt in their 0-7 run at the 2012 U17 Worlds in Kaunas.

"I think I'm the first Egyptian player to reach this level. We have had guys in Division One basketball but nobody ever went to the ACC or Big Ten or these great schools. This is going to make a difference at the national team."

Looking back on the event in Lithuania in Kaunas, Mahmoud sees how far he's come.

"That was my first world championship. I wasn't that good," he recalled.

"I was good enough to play for the Egyptian national team but I wasn’t good enough to play in the US at that time. That was a great experience for me, playing against great players from the US. We lost to them, but it was great to play against the high level players like Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and others like Dante Exum.

"There were some great players there. That's the best thing about a World Championship - the experience," said the Giza native.

Egypt actually were much better than their 0-7 record indicated. They led against the mighty USA midway through the second quarter and kept the contest close at halftime against the eventual champions. The finalists Australia needed double-overtime to knock off the Africans and Egypt lost by just one point against hosts Lithuania.

"I know that we could have gone further in that tournament. But at times we had some bad luck, we were tired and we didn't know how to play at that level. But we could have beaten China or France, and we almost beat Lithuania too," said Mahmoud, who then went to a high school in the United States and was a member of the Egyptian senior national team at AfroBasket 2013.

But the Louisville big man isn't the only Egyptian to have translated a strong showing at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship into a stay in the US. Ehab Amin, Moataz Hosny and Omar Elmanestrly will also be playing in college in the States this season.

"In my opinion, this will be Egypt's best generation ever in about three or four years. We have great players. You have four players here at colleges in the United States. That will build the senior national team four years from now," said Mahmoud.

Looking ahead to this summer's edition of the FIBA U17 World Championship, the 19-year-old believes there are more Egyptian players who could make a similar jump to the United States.

"I do know Ahmed Abdelrahman. He's a good player. They have some good players, probably one or two who would have the opportunity to come over here to the states for high school or college," he said.

That will continue to build on the momentum that Mahmoud and his teammates had from the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship - even though they did not win a game.