Palestine’s debut at FIBA Asia Championships a resounding success

Jamal Abu Shamala of Palestine dribbles in FIBA Asia 2015

Whatever happens in the “Classification” stage won’t dampen Palestine’s debut in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships.

Palestine will play against Kazakhstan later today. If they win, they’ll play the winner of Hong Kong-Jordan match to determine who finishes 9-12. The placement isn’t a good indication of the small region’s impact on the tournament.

Though they lost their final three games, Palestine started the regional tournament with three consecutive wins: a two-point win over eventual #1 seeded Philippines, a 21-point blowout over Kuwait and then a 6-point win over Hong Kong. Palestine’s run would end in their fourth game; a narrow three point loss to India 73-70.

With those three wins, the unranked Palestine surprised their opponents and fans alike.

Team Palestine FIBA Asia

Palestine’s basketball success can be attributed to two key players in Jamal Abu Shamala and Sani Sakakini. Through six games, Shamala has averaged 20.5 points and 8.2 rebounds while hitting more than four threes per game at a an unbelievable 56.5% clip. Shamala also leads the team in steals at 2.2 a game.

Sani Sakakini isn’t shooting quiet as well, but he leads the team in scoring at 21.5 points per game through five games going into the Classification Round. When he isn’t shooting the ball, Sakakini also leads the team in rebounding (12.2) and is second in steals (1.8).

As previously mentioned, this is Palestine’s first appearance at the FIBA Championships. Going into the tournament, no one really had any idea how they would perform or what to expect. It’s safe to say that the next time Palestine competes at a FIBA tournament, teams won’t overlook them.

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