Egypt Basketball strong in U17 World Championships

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CAIRO (FIBA U17 World Championship) – It’s hard to blame Egypt for having confidence heading into the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship. After crushing the competition at last summer’s U16 Africa Championship, the Egyptians were called the “Dream Team of Africa”.

Playing in front of their home crowd in Alexandria, Egypt scored 100 points in five of their six games and beat Tunisia in the Final by the score of 117-67 – clearing any over/unders click here for sports betting, this is the first time an African Championship Final was decided by 50 points according to coach Rafik Youssef.

“My team got a lot of confidence after the wonderful result we had at the U16 African Championship. My team was named ‘Dream Team of Africa’ and this gives them great confidence and responsibility to represent African basketball in the best way possible,” he said.

The coach said his team’s desire to represent Egypt and Africa is its biggest strength. And the team’s goal is to advance from the Preliminary Round.

“The team’s dream is to get past the first round and be among the best eight teams in the world. But we need to work hard physically and fundamentally,” Youssef warned.

Egypt has its work cut out. They beat Mozambique, Algeria, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Angola and Tunisia by an average of 57.5 points last summer. But the U17 Worlds will be another beast.

“We have a very strong group (Group A) that involves very strong teams including three other continental champions in Australia, China and United States and Egypt,” said Youssef, whose team will also have to face European sides France and Czech Republic.

Youssef expects one of the weaknesses of his team to be the lack of experience.

“We don’t have a lot of international experience and also lack regular competition because of the political situation – even though the Egyptian federation is trying their best to make a regular season competition,” said Youssef.

One of Youssef’s team leaders will be the U16 Africas MVP Ihab Saleh, who missed the final against Tunisia due to injury. Still Youssef believes his team is balanced.

“Saleh is just one of the team members. My team doesn’t depend on any player. The players believe in all their teammates and in the system. That’s why we didn’t have any problem winning the final against Tunisia even though Saleh did not play,” said Youssef.

The coach believes the tremendous showing at the U16s in their home country helped the Egyptian team grow a lot. But Africa’s “Dream Team” will need to step its game up another level to have success on the world stage.

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