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Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrehman Al Thani (standing, second right), President of the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF), is seen with (from left) Saadoun Al Kuwari, Executive Director of QBF, Mohammed Ali Al Hobash, General Secretary, QBF, Rashid Al Khalifa, manager of Al Rayyan team and Mohammed Al Obaidly (right), manager of Eljaish team. Eljaish forward Baker Ahmed (right) and Yaseen Mousa of Al Rayyan are also seen besides the Emir Cup and the Heir Apparent Cup trophies. PICTURES: SHAIVAL DALAL
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Feisty Eljaish are confident of extending their winning streak in the 2013 Heir Apparent Cup when they take on basketball giants Al Rayyan in the title clash today.
Coached by Milan Minic, Eljaish are unbeaten in six games so far and forward Baker Ahmed says his team can pull it off in the final at Al Gharafa Stadium.
“If we play well, we are going to win the Cup. We are ready to do it,” Ahmed said yesterday.
“Now we know what we want. We know what we have to do,” he said. “We have just one more match to go.
“My team has performed very good right throughout the tournament. If you see, we have played six games and won all those encounters. We are unbeaten,” the 27-year-old forward added.
Mousa said the results obtained by Eljaish in the Heir Apparent Cup ‘have not come as a surprise’.
“We didn’t lose any games and I am not surprised (with the clean slate of wins). We have worked extremely hard,” he said.
“The team has been trying to do a lot of things together and to be better is one of those things. My team gets better every day. So I think we are going to be ready for the final,” he said.
Mousa, who also plays for the Qatar national team, said his team was ‘pretty desperate’ to win.
“We are 1000 percent desperate to win this final,” he said with a disarming smile on his face.
“Like I said no comments (smiles). That’s my prediction. We just want to come and play and try to win.
“We are up against a very good team. We respect them. That’s why we are focused,” he said.
“We were struggling in the league. But we finished third and that lifted our confidence.”
Al Rayyan coach Brian Rowsom was quick to acknowledge the fact that Eljaish are unbeaten in the tournament.
“Eljaish have played hard in this event. They haven’t lost,” Rowsom said.
But the American, a former NBA player, was equally quick to issue a warning to his rivals.
“But we play as a team. It will be a very good match-day (for fans). I think it will be a very good game for the teams and the fans,” he said. To a question, Rowsom said: “We can’t be tired. We’ve got one match to go in this event. This is the most important match of the tournament. We can’t be thinking about tiredness.”
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrehman Al Thani, President of the Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF), said he expected a ‘good final’.
“I think it will be a keenly contested final. Two good sides are the final. One is unbeaten and the other are former champions,” Sheikh Saoud said. “It could be a close game,” he added.
Al Rayyan have not won the Heir Apparent Cup since 2009 whereas Eljaish bagged the title three seasons ago.