''Basketball shows you part of how we survived'' says Nadim Issa as Syria prove haters wrong
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - Nadim Issa and Syria sang the national anthem at the top of their lungs prior to their FIBA Asia Cup meeting with Kazakhstan, Sunday.
Syria knew that it was an important game ahead of them and belting out the national anthem in harmony was certainly a way to get a strong start. The team sung together in unison, loud enough to be heard throughout the entire venue at Istora Senayan.
For Issa, it was a sign.
"This was a really special moment. For me personally, this was the moment I knew that we're not gonna lose today because it's more of a spiritual thing."
Certainly enough, it was Syria who were frantically celebrating in their locker rooms after the final buzzer.
“... they forget that we're coming back from a huge war that we're trying to recover, to improve, to get better."
Syria stunned their opponents Kazakhstan, 77-67, to break through in the tournament, and more importantly, book a spot in the Qualification to the Quarter-Finals.
Issa himself was a big reason behind the win with 15 points, 11 of which he made in the opening period. He also had five rebounds and four assists in the game.
It definitely couldn't get any better for a squad that started the meet with two losses, including a 61-point beatdown at the hands of Japan.
"... We're playing with 11 players, with young players, believing in our goal, fighting for the last chance," he said. "And today, we made it happen."
"We are now between the 12 best teams in Asian and Oceania," added Javier Juarez, head coach of the Syria national team. "For a country like Syria, this is incredible."
The victory meant so much more than going into the next round. It meant so much more than extending their stay in the Indonesian capital.
As they say, basketball is more than just a game. By winning, for Issa, shows how the nation is trying to rise from years-long adversities.
"Representing our country after the war, specifically winning, makes people take a point-of-view on how we are recovering from the war," he said. "Basketball shows you part of how we survived."
What makes the win all the more gratifying, according to Issa, is that Syria was able to silence the critics and the naysayers.
"Some people from outside of the team, they don't know what's going inside the team. They try to criticize us and they forget that we're coming back from a huge war that we're trying to recover, to improve, to get better."
"When someone is waiting for you to fall down, to stab you in the back, it hurts you so much. But happily today, we proved that we came here to do something," said Issa, who's been with the men's team since 2019.
Morale is definitely at an all-time high for Syria, something that will surely be useful when they go up against New Zealand in the playoffs.
"Now we're gonna go play amazing next game, play with the same attitude, and leave a good impression that makes everyone who's watching our team proud of the job we are doing here," said Issa.
"And, make haters sad," he added.