Indonesia leader Arighi: "We are here to learn, get better"
TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - Indonesia didn't expect to come to the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship and beat the best teams on the continent. Their goal instead was to use the experience to learn and get better for the long haul.
Muhamad Noor Arighi was Indonesia's leading scorer last summer at the 2015 FIBA Asia U16 Championship, and the guard really appreciates the opportunity to play at the continental level again at the U18 level.
"It's important for us and Indonesia Basketball to be back at the FIBA Asia U18s," said Arighi, who has scored 15 points in the last two games after going scoreless in Indonesia's first two games in Tehran. "Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Indonesia. Many people love basketball and it is a great feeling to be back at this championship."
Indonesia had made four straight FIBA Asia U18s from 1989 to 1995 and then managed no appearances until 2012. And this championship in Tehran has been a great learning experience for Arighi.
Muhammad Noor Arighi goes against the best in Asia at the U18s.
"For me, this is for learning and to see the level of FIBA Asia U18s. But we came to Tehran to try our best too," he said.
Indonesia lost their first four games in Group B and will have their final contest against Korea before heading home after the group stage. Arighi and Co. played against some strong teams in hosts Iran, Japan, Lebanon and Kazakhstan.
"They are really great teams with great and big players. We learned a lot in this tournament," Arighi said. "It's hard to compete against the best in Asia, but it's good for us learn how they play basketball. We hope we can do better in the future."
Arighi helped Indonesia pick up three victories last summer at the FIBA Asia U16 Championship, beating Bangladesh, Malaysia and Bahrain and finishing 10th of 15 teams.
"I learned many things there too, like how proud me and my teammates are to represent our country at the Asia level," he said. "That made us want to try to be better players. And wearing the jersey with Indonesia on the front is the best feeling I have ever felt."
"For me, this is for learning and to see the level of FIBA Asia U18s. But we came to Tehran to try our best too," Arighi
Arighi, who won't turn 18 years until next February, was inspired and taught to play basketball by his father, who is a basketball coach.
"Basketball was like love at first sight for me," Arighi said.
He grew up watching Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, saying: "When I was a little kid I had a poster of him on my wall and watched a lot of his games on TV, videos and YouTube."
Arighi also liked to watch Indonesian naturalised player Ebrahim Enguio Lopez.
"He is really athletic, smart and hustles," Arighi said of Lopez.
Aright said basketball is growing in popularity in Indonesia. And this showing in Tehran can help that.
"Basketball is the most popular sport in schools. Most of the people at this age are playing basketball,” he said "Basketball is getting bigger in Indonesia though not yet bigger than football or badminton. But I hope the government pays more attention to this sport than before."
The young players after all are learning more and more from the experience of playing against the best on the continent.