THERE was no stopping the Qatari men’s and Japanese women’s basketball team as they both sailed to victory undefeated in this year’s FIBA 3x3 Under-18 Asian Championships.
Qatar, the reigning champions of the FIBA 3x3 Under-18 World Championships, lifted the trophy after their 7-0 run culminated with a crushing 21-9 victory over the second seeds the Philippines, who won the men’s title in 2013.
The triumph at the Gem In Mall in Cyberjaya marked Qatar’s second crown in as many months after they won the world title in Kazakhstan in early June.
While Qatar boasted the tallest players, with an average height of 202.5cm, they attributed their victory to hard work and good teamwork.
“We will keep working hard to stay the best,” said player Nedim Muslic.
In the women’s final, Japan clearly showed that a lack of height is not always an obstacle and proved that to the rest of field.
Japan, with an average height of about 163cm, defeated Kazakhstan by 20–16 to emerge with the honours and also did it with a perfect run.
“We went after the loose ball early and made as many long shots as possible,” said influential player Nagika Tanaka.
Both the Malaysian men’s and women’s teams held their own against the opposition before bowing out in the semi-finals.
The women’s team suffered defeat at the hands of Japan 18-10, while the men’s team narrowly lost 21-20 to former champions the Philippines.
Nevertheless, both teams finished in a commendable third place.
The men’s team defeated Japan 21-14, while the women beat Singapore 16-7 after 10 minutes of regulation time.
Yee Tong Heng made himself and Malaysia proud as he walked away with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the men’s category, while Vietnam’s Thi Tieu Duy Nguyen secured the MVP award in the women’s section .
MABA secretary-general Datuk Lee Yuen Fong had previously said the Malaysian boys and girls were going in without any expectations and focused on using the competition as a learning experience.
More than 2,000 spectators turned up at the state-of-the-art court, which was set up in the mall over the three days and opened to a full house last Friday.
This was the second edition of the tournament and it ended on Sunday. It was also the first time Malaysian hosted it.
Other teams in the event included Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon officiated at the opening ceremony and the event was witnesssed by the ambassador of the Philippines J. Eduardo Malaya, minister counsellor for the embassy of the Republic of Korea Kim Hyung Soo, Seri Mutiara Developments Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Loh Saw Fong, NBL Asia chief executive officer Tan Kee Hian and NBL Asia executive director Kelvin Yit.
Tan said he was confident that the three-on-three basketball format would become a very popular game in the country.
“It is growing and there is a lot of interest in the community,” he said, adding that FIBA were making efforts for the game to be included in the Olympics.
Malaysia will host the 3x3 Under-18 Asian Championships again next year.