South Sudan to represent Africa, Japan to represent Asia in Paris Olympic basketball field

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South Sudan’s Nuni Omot (2L) shoots the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Angola and South Sudan at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 2, 2023. (AFP)
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Japan guard Keisei Tominaga (30) shoots against Cape Verde forward Ivan Almeida (6) in the first half of their Basketball World Cup classification match in Okinawa, southern Japan, on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)
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Philippines center Kai Zachary Sotto (11) shoots over China center Hu Jinqiu (21) during their Basketball World Cup classification match at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 02 September 2023
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South Sudan to represent Africa, Japan to represent Asia in Paris Olympic basketball field

  • South Sudan clinched the Olympic berth as the highest-ranked African team in the tournament after rolling past Angola 101-78 in Manila
  • Japan joined the Olympic field as the highest-ranked World Cup team from Asia after an 80-71 win over Cape Verde in Okinawa

MANILA, Philippines: It was a chant that Luol Deng waited years to lead. He stood along the side of the South Sudan locker room after their run in the World Cup was over, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled the same thing, over and over.

“Where we goin’?” he shouted.
“Paris,” the players all responded.
Deng’s vision when he founded the national team about a decade ago was to use basketball as a beacon of hope for his homeland. And his vision never seemed more real than on Saturday.
A struggling country just 12 years removed from gaining its independence — making it the youngest nation in the world — is headed to the Paris Olympics as the automatic qualifier from Africa. Carlik Jones finished with 26 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds, and South Sudan rolled past Angola 101-78 on Saturday in the final game of the World Cup for both teams.




Team South Sudan celebrates after winning the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Angola and South Sudan at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 2, 2023. (AFP)

The win, combined with Egypt’s 88-86 loss to New Zealand in a game that went final about a half hour later, clinched the Olympic berth for South Sudan as the highest-ranked African team in the tournament. And later Saturday, Japan joined the Olympic field as the highest-ranked World Cup team from Asia — clinching that spot by holding on for an 80-71 win over Cape Verde.
“This team is a beam of light, like I keep on saying,” South Sudan coach Royal Ivey said. “We’re bringing unity, camaraderie, love and friendship to this country. This country’s only been independent for 12 years. To do this, for Luol Deng to put this together, this is incredible. This is incredible.”
Marial Shayok scored 18, Nuni Omot — the reigning MVP of the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League — scored 17 and Wenyen Gabriel added 15 for South Sudan (3-2).
Childe Dundao led Angola (1-4) with 21 points.
South Sudan and Japan joined Australia (the Oceania automatic qualifier) and France (the host nation) as teams to have clinched spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball field.
The World Cup serves as a qualifier for seven teams — the two highest-ranked teams from the Americas, the top two from Europe, and the top finisher from Asia, Oceania and Africa — into the Olympic field. Those seven join France, and the other four spots will be decided in last-chance qualifying spots next summer.
“I love this team,” Ivey said. “Man, this is a great feeling. This is a great feeling. I wish I could bottle this up right now.”
Japan played host to the Olympics two summers ago and now has secured another trip to the games, though it was far from easy at the end.
Keisei Tominaga put the hosts — Japan got to play its World Cup games in Okinawa — up 73-53 on a 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter.




Japan forward Yuta Watanabe raises his arm responding to supporters celebrating after the team defeated Cape Verde in their Basketball World Cup classification match in Okinawa, southern Japan, on Sept. 2, 2023. (AP)

Cape Verde roared back. It held Japan scoreless for the next nine minutes, going on a 15-0 run to get within 73-68 on a 3-pointer by Betinho Gomes. Japan went 11 minutes without a field goal, but Joshua Hawkinson had the team’s only baskets of the final quarter. They both came in the last minute, one setting up a three-point play, the other a 3-pointer to help the hosts advance.
Hawkinson had 29 points and Tominaga had 22 for Japan (3-2). Edy Tavares and Shane De Rosa each had 11 for Cape Verde (1-4).
PHILIPPINES 96, CHINA 75
At Manila, Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t let the host nation finish the World Cup winless.
Clarkson scored 24 of his 34 points in a third-quarter outburst that turned the entire game around and the Philippines (1-4) rolled past China (1-4) in the finale for both teams. The win also ensured that the Philippines will have a chance to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament next summer.
“We didn’t want our hosting to end without gifting the Filipino people with a victory,” Philippines coach Chot Reyes said in a televised interview after the national team ended a nine-game World Cup losing streak. “It’s storming outside, we’re basically playing for nothing, but they still came out.”




Philippine’s Jordan Clarkson (L) dribbles the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Philippines and China at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on September 2, 2023. (AFP)

Kaier Li, who goes by the name Kyle Anderson when he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, led China with 17 points. China was outscored 34-11 in the third quarter.
NEW ZEALAND 88, EGYPT 86
At Manila, Izayah Le’Afa and Finn Delany each scored 27 points for New Zealand (2-3) in a back-and-forth game with 10 lead changes and nine ties.
Ehab Amin and Amr El Gendy each scored 19 for Egypt (2-3).
FRANCE 87, IVORY COAST 77
At Jakarta, Isaia Cordinier scored 19 points and Rudy Gobert added 17 in his 100th national-team appearance for France (3-2).
The Olympic silver medalists were eliminated from medal contention after losing their first two games of group-stage play, then won their final three games in Indonesia and leave the World Cup with a winning record.
Nisre Zouzoua scored 18 points for Ivory Coast (1-4).
FINLAND 90, VENEZUELA 75
At Okinawa, Lauri Markkanen needed just under 25 minutes to score 32 points and grab nine rebounds while leading Finland (2-3) in its tournament finale. Pedro Chourio led Venezuela (0-5) with 17 points.
MEXICO 93, JORDAN 80
At Manila, Gabriel Giron scored 21 points for Mexico (2-3). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Jordan (0-5).
LEBANON 81, IRAN 73
At Jakarta, Wael Arakji scored 21 points for Lebanon (2-3). Mohammed Amini led Iran (0-5) with 22 points.
 


Day 3 of Fencing World Championships sees new champions

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Day 3 of Fencing World Championships sees new champions

  • The American team dominated the men’s under-20 foil team

Riyadh: Abdullah Al-Sunaid, CEO of the 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships, crowned the victorious women’s under-20 foil team during the ongoing event in Riyadh. 

The Japanese team emerged triumphant, securing the gold medal after a thrilling victory over Italy, who won silver. The Republic of Korea claimed the bronze, with France also clinching bronze and securing the third position in the intense competitions held at the King Saud University Sports Arena.

In the men’s events, Mohammed Chaouchi, president of the Tunisian Fencing Federation, honored the winners of the third day. The American team dominated the men’s under-20 foil team, seizing the gold medal by defeating Italy, who took silver. Japan secured the bronze, while France also claimed the bronze and secured the third spot on the podium.


Wehrlein wins Misano E-Prix after last-lap heartbreak for Rowland

Updated 15 April 2024
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Wehrlein wins Misano E-Prix after last-lap heartbreak for Rowland

  • Victory for TAG Heuer Porsche driver was the sixth of his Formula E career
  • Reigning champion Jake Dennis claims second place for Andretti Formula E Team, Nick Cassidy of Jaguar TCS Racing secures third

MISANO: The Misano E-Prix saw Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team emerge triumphant after an intense battle for Round 7 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship on Sunday night.

At the second leg of the inaugural Misano E-Prix double-header, Wehrlein made amends for TAG Heuer Porsche’s poor performance in the first race on Saturday. His first-place trophy from Round 7 is the sixth of his Formula E career, following a heartbreaking last-lap miscalculation that resulted in the then-race leader Oliver Rowland running out of energy and retiring.

Reigning ABB FIA Formula E World Champion Jake Dennis of the Andretti Formula E Team secured second place, while Jaguar TCS Racing’s Nick Cassidy clinched third place at the flag by five hundredths of a second, in front of a 25,000-strong crowd.

Wehrlein’s triumph has him tied with Dennis at the top of the Drivers’ standings, with previous leader Rowland falling to third. Meanwhile, Jaguar TCS Racing leads the Teams’ table by a significant margin.

“Yesterday would have been better to win but I’m very happy about the race today,” Wehrlein said. “It was quite chaotic again in the beginning until mid-race. I wasn’t sure if I should stay in the lead or let Oli (Rowland) through the pace. His pace seemed a bit weird and too fast to try and defend so I didn’t defend him much. I was a bit surprised by his energy, I wasn’t sure if the team had the correct information or not. But in the end, it proved to be the right thing to do. It was a lot of managing; the energy, the battery, the tires. Just everything.

“It goes quickly from zero to hero, we know that in Formula E. I think we had the pace this weekend to win both races. Unfortunately yesterday with these kinds of races I was a bit of a victim with my front wing and then being at the back, but today was a big redemption for us.”

Round 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be the 2024 Monaco E-Prix on Saturday, April 27.


Rohit Sharma century in vain as Chennai Super Kings beat Mumbai Indians in IPL

Updated 14 April 2024
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Rohit Sharma century in vain as Chennai Super Kings beat Mumbai Indians in IPL

  • Set 207 for victory, five-time winners Mumbai finished on 186-6

MUMBAI: India’s Rohit Sharma hit an unbeaten 105 but his Mumbai Indians fell 20 runs short as they tried to chase down a big target set by holders Chennai Super Kings in a battle of IPL heavyweights on Sunday.
Set 207 for victory, five-time winners Mumbai finished on 186-6 even though Rohit raised his ton in 61 balls at his home in Wankhede Stadium.
Skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad and the in-form Shivam Dube powered Chennai, who won their fifth title last year, to 206-4.
Gaikwad hit 69 and Dube smashed an unbeaten 66 before warhorse M.S. Dhoni smashed three successive sixes in the 20th over to take Chennai past 200.
Dhoni came in to bat with four balls left and scored 20. He smashed Mumbai skipper Hardik Pandya for three sixes and finished with a two to end a 26-run over.
“Our young wicketkeeper scoring three sixes down the order helped a lot and I think that was the difference,” Gaikwad said of the 42-year-old Dhoni.
Sri Lanka quick Matheesha Pathirana then took four wickets to push Mumbai to their fourth loss of the season and Gaikwad said he bowled “exceptionally well and nailed those yorkers.”
The two teams are on contrasting runs after changes of guard this season.
Pandya replaced Rohit as Mumbai captain while Dhoni surprisingly handed over the Chennai leadership to Gaikwad.
Gaikwad had his fourth win as captain after he set the pace for his team with his 40-ball knock laced with five fours and five sixes.
He put on 90 runs with Dube before falling to Pandya, but Dube and then Dhoni’s cameo ensured Chennai finished strongly.
Mumbai started well with Rohit and Ishan Kishan putting on 70 runs for the first wicket before Pathirana hit back.
Pathirana, known “Baby Malinga” for his slinging action similar to former Sri Lankan quick Lasith Malinga, sent back Kishan and then Suryakumar Yadav, for his second duck this season, in the space of three balls.
He later dismissed Tilak Varma for 31 as Rohit attempted to keep up the charge in his 63-ball knock and his second IPL ton.
Pathirana was named man of the match and Pandya said the Sri Lankan “was the difference.”
Tushar Deshpande got Pandya out and the home crowd cheered in another sign of growing unpopularity of Mumbai’s choice of captain.
In the first match of the day, Phil Salt’s rapid 89 and three wickets for Mitchell Starc helped Kolkata Knight Riders race to a crushing eight-wicket win over Lucknow Super Giants.
Starc’s 3-28 kept Lucknow down to 161-7 at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, with the other Knight Riders’ bowlers putting in disciplined performances after their side elected to field first.
The Australian left-arm quick became the most expensive buy in IPL history after Kolkata shelled out $2.98 million for his services.
Opener Salt then steered the two-time IPL winners to their target in 15.4 overs for their fourth victory in five matches this season.
The English wicketkeeper-batsman put on 120 runs with skipper Shreyas Iyer, who made 38, smashing 14 fours and three sixes in his 47-ball knock.


Saudi Arabia display resilience to secure notable ACC Premier Cup victory

Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia display resilience to secure notable ACC Premier Cup victory

  • Match likely to represent a landmark triumph

AL-AMARAT: On the evening of the second day of the ACC Premier Cup, my taxi driver rubbed the tips of his fingers together, not in anticipation of money but to indicate that something was in the air.

If he meant rain, he was correct. People woke early in Muscat on day three, Sunday, to the sound and sight of medium to heavy rain. Forecasts indicated that it would die away by 11 a.m. This turned out to be the case. The ground staff got to work on turf two at Al-Amarat, clearing the covers, rolling the wicket and preparing the outfield, which had dried very quickly.

Fortunately, only two matches were scheduled for day three, both on turf two. The first was Oman v Cambodia; the second, Hong Kong v Saudi Arabia. Play commenced at noon on turf two with Oman batting in a match reduced to 11 overs per side.

Prior to that, at 11:45, the covers came off turf one, the roller went to work, along with associated preparations. Perhaps turf one would be used for the second game of the day, thus allowing a full quota of overs for the first match. However, it seemed that, despite those preparations, turf one would be rested. The day’s second match was to be played to the 20 overs per team. It would have been interesting to see how the matches would have been balanced in terms of overs had four games been scheduled for day three.

Oman were asked to bat first, and lost a wicket in the first over. Undeterred, the batters sought to score quickly, given the reduced number of overs. Seventeen came off the third over, 18 off the fifth, largely off the bat of Naseem Khushi, who finally perished with 69 in the eighth over. Further hitting in the final two overs propelled the total to 154 for five.

Cambodia made a steady start in the first five overs, scoring 44 runs, but their innings unraveled in dramatic fashion in the sixth over, bowled by Aqib Ilyas. The first ball was scooped to deep square, where the fielder could not get his hands to the ball. However, off the next ball, Viraj was caught at deep midwicket, Beukes came in and was bowled first ball, followed by Godara, who misread the delivery, cutting it onto his stumps, to give Ilyas a hat-trick.

After that, wickets continued to fall, only captain Luqman Butt displaying resistance in a lone fight, ending undefeated on 41 out of 91 for seven.

There had been little danger of an upset after the first five overs of the game, but the scene was set for Saudi Arabia to achieve the first one of the tournament, after a disappointing defeat in the first match. The team elected to bat and a different intent was visible from the outset. Although S. Khan was dismissed in the fourth over, Abdul Waheed, who could easily have been run out in the same over, stroked his way to 77 in partnership, first with F. Khan, 30, and then with Manan Ali, 44, whose straight hitting was instrumental in Saudi reaching an imposing 202 for eight.

It was the team’s second highest T20I total after the 221 for three against Bhutan on Feb. 15, 2024. Indeed, the team’s top five T20I totals have all been scored in 2024. Signs, perhaps, of a team on the rise.

In Saudi’s first match on day two, the bowlers had impressed. If a defense of 202 was to be achieved, they needed to impress again. Despite an early success for Ishtiaq Ahmad, who pinned Y. Murtaza lbw, the opening bowlers were not at their best, conceding 57 runs in five overs. The introduction of captain Hisham Shaikh turned out to be inspirational. Out of nowhere, for no reason, A. Rath skied a catch, and two balls later B. Hayat pulled a shortish ball into the deep but straight to a fielder who took a fine catch above his head.

In the first match Saudi had reduced Malaysia to 53 for five after 10 overs, but failed to make that advantage count. In this match, the introduction of slow left armer Zain Ul Abidin was responsible for restricting the progress of Hong Kong. He bowled four overs and claimed three wickets for only 16 runs. When his spell ended, Hong Kong were 106 for six after 13 overs, requiring another 97 runs in seven overs at 14 per over. This was beyond the capabilities of Nizakat Khan, who made a defiant 73 in a lost cause as the innings closed on 147 all out, 55 runs adrift.

This is likely to represent a landmark victory; a sign of a team adapting to the demands of a higher level of competition, especially after the day two defeat.

Perhaps that has galvanized the team. It does mean that in Group A Nepal lead the way with four points from two matches, followed by three teams, each with two points — Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong — with Qatar bottom with no points. The stage is set for a probable three-way battle for second place.


Haya Alsulaiman’s mission to empower women through golf in Middle East

Updated 14 April 2024
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Haya Alsulaiman’s mission to empower women through golf in Middle East

  • Saudi owner of Golftec Dubai is offering new avenue to embrace a sport long seen as a male domain

DUBAI: Thirty-one-year-old Haya Ghassan Alsulaiman, Saudi owner of the Dubai-based golf coaching center Golftec, is hoping to encourage more women to play the sport in the Middle East.

Already one of the US’ most popular institutions for golf development, Golftec — with Alsulaiman at the helm — launched in 2023 at Dubai City Walk.

The organization was initially founded in 1995 in the basement of a Denver, Colorado, country club, and has since become a household name around the world, operating in six countries, with more than 210 locations employing in excess of 800 full-time golf coaches.

However, it remains little known in the Middle East.

Alsulaiman is ready to change that across the UAE and wider region and, in the process, empower more women to embrace a sport that has long been seen as the domain of men.

“I am used to being the only woman in a male-dominated industry,” Alsulaiman told Arab News, explaining that she had previously worked for her father’s automotive dealership in Saudi where she was the only female employee among more than 200 men.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Alsulaiman would vacation in California with her family every summer, and would regularly play tennis with her father.

When her father injured his knee, he switched to golf and learned how to play with Golftec.

“It was much easier for my father to understand the sport with this type of learning facility,” she said. “Then he encouraged my sister to get involved by first becoming his caddy.

“The more she went with my father, the more she desired to play,” Alsulaiman said. “Then she suggested to take lessons with him at Golftec.”

Haya soon caught the bug and joined her father and sister in taking golf classes.

From 2014 she began playing golf each summer during the family holiday in California.

“The routine was to take a lesson or two at Golftec and then go out on the range to practice what we were taught in the lesson and then, two days after, go play on an official golf course,” she said. “That was our routine, week after week.”

Alsulaiman developed a great love for the sport. However, when she returned to Saudi after the summer, she had nowhere to practice and play.

“In Saudi there were not the facilities for golf that there are today and no coaches, so we could only play in the summer,” she said. “We played from summer to summer. The sport bonded our family. We so enjoyed it. We laughed, had fun and engaged in family friendly competition.”

After the pandemic, Alsulaiman decided to leave Saudi Arabia and move to Dubai. Following her father’s entrepreneurial spirit, she opened her own business — Golftec’s first branch in the Middle East.

The business allows her to do what she loves and, she said, encourage more women to play the sport.

While golf has become a popular sport in the UAE, with many golf courses and training centers, Alsulaiman said that there was nothing that matched Golftec’s teaching methodology, with the advanced use of motion technology and video feedback making it easy for trainees to follow. She also finds the learning environment less intimidating than that of a golf club.

“It’s relaxed and fun and is a perfect place to encourage more women to learn,” she said.

Just under a decade ago the idea of a Saudi female golfer would have been hard to imagine. Today, thanks to a slew of social reforms under Saudi Vision 2030, golf and many other sports are increasingly accessible to women across the country.

In 2020, the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Public Investment Fund was held at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, signaling a turning point for women’s golf in the Kingdom.

The event also launched a comprehensive national golf sustainability strategy that oversees the environmental, economic and social aspects of the sport.

In December 2023, the Royal Diriyah Golf Club was unveiled in an event that saw Saudi women and men take to the Greg Norman-designed golf course for the first time alongside international guests.

Abeer Al-Johani, director of the Federation Office at the Saudi Golf Federation, said that the strides women were making in the sport reflected the social and economic changes in the Kingdom.

“Saudi women aside, women playing golf need much more sport, more media coverage and more opportunities,” Al-Johani told Arab News. “We need similar encouragement to what men receive but I believe we are beginning to see a lot of change — a lot of women are supporting other women in the sport specifically.”

Alsulaiman and Golftec are more than playing their part in making that happen.