22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
12 Mohammed Alsuwailem (KSA)
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Mohammed Alsuwailem: ''We have no choice except to win''

JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - Mohammed Alsuwailem could only watch.

Ever since Window 2 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers, there was nothing that the towering center could do to help the national team through an important calendar year in 2022. He had to watch as they lost 7 straight games in FIBA competitions, including a winless Asia Cup, to go 8 of their last 9 games.

"[These are] very difficult games, but we have no choice except to win."


It was tough to watch because Alsuwailem knew he could make a difference. He was averaging a double-double of 10.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game through two windows of the Asian Qualifiers. He had recorded a double-double in nearly all of those games, even against the likes of powerhouses Jordan and Lebanon.

But there’s not much he could do after suffering an ACL injury that left him sidelined for most of the past year.


Needless to say, it was not an easy period for the young big man.

"It was months of depression because I wanted to help my teammates, even for a little bit," he said.

As with any injury, the path back to getting on the court is a long and difficult journey. It’s especially tough on athletes, human beings who dedicate their lives to being the best in their respective sports.

"It is very difficult to be cut off from the sport that I love for a long time," Alsuwailem added. "It was a very bad feeling,"

Through the roller coaster of emotions, pushed by the desire to return to action, Alsuwailem finally made it back on the hardwood. In late November, on the 18th to be exact, the 24-year-old center played his first official game in almost exactly 8 months in the Saudi Premier League (SPL).

To no one’s surprise, Alsuwailem immediately returned to dominating the paint with 18 points and 10 rebounds while also dishing out 5 assists. He continued to be a force as he and Al Hilal debuted in the inaugural season of the West Asia Super League (WASL) - Gulf and has not slowed down since.

In the 16 games since his return, the big man has recorded a double-double in all but three games and clearly stands out as the star of the team. In WASL - Gulf in particular, Alsuwailem is arguably one of the best players in the competition as he averages 18.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 76.3 percent from the field.

"It was a disturbing feeling of not being able to return to the court again," he expressed. "But with determination and persistence, every difficulty becomes possible to overcome."

"It was a matter of determination and time," said Alsuwailem.

Now that he has been able to prove himself at the club competition, Alsuwailem’s attention can shift to national team duties where he has recently been named to the shortlist for the upcoming Window 6 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifier.

Saudi Arabia 16-player pool for Window 6
Khalid Abdel Gabar Mathna Almarwani Mohammed Almarwani Mohammed Alsuwailem
Saad Alsubaie Fahad Belal Ali Shubayli Marzouq Almuwallad
Abdulrahman Fallata Osama Albargawi Thamer Mohammed Ahmed Almukhtar
Hazim Aljohar Mohammad Hamza Abdulmalik Mohammednidal Ashoor Hashem Al-Rashhed

As he watched his fellow teammates afar game after game with the national team over those difficult 8 months, Alsuwailem put in as much effort and counted down the days to wear those green and white jerseys once again.

"I could only look out the window impatiently," he said about looking forward to playing for the national team in the upcoming February window.

Saudi Arabia will be more than happy that their star center is available once again as well, as this will be an important window of two away games for the national team. They will first play against World Cup-qualified New Zealand on February 24 in Christchurch before traveling to Bengaluru to play India on February 27.

To keep their hopes of qualifying for the upcoming World Cup alive, they will have to at least win both of these games.

"[These are] very difficult games, but we have no choice except to win."

In particular, the game against the Tall Blacks will be a daring task to tackle for Alsuwailem. Saudi Arabia lost to New Zealand in their previous clash, 80-65, but also trailed by as much as 30 points in that contest. However, Mohammed Alsuwailem was not available at the time and could make a big difference in the rematch - even in an away game.

No matter how difficult the situation is for Saudi Arabia in these upcoming games, it shouldn’t be too tough for Alsuwailem. He’s already gone through the lows of a knee injury and back. Anything should seem possible for the rising star center right now.