By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar’s 3x3 Basketball team comes into the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games ambitious, confident but humble.
The Qatar team makes their debut in the competition today against Samoa and they are considered main contenders to go all the way.
Their star player, Tanguy Ngombo, one of the most decorated players to appear at Ashgabat 2017 because of his successful career in 5x5 Basketball and his selection at the NBA draft, revealed the team’s state of mind.
“We came here to reach the top. Nothing but gold,” Ngombo said. “We have showed our potential in several tournaments and gained big confidence.
“It will not be easy to win it all, but we are strong believers.”
Ngombo, who plays with Qatari sport powerhouse Al Rayyan, added, “When you compete in an open and hot basketball court sometimes you can’t breathe. But, come on, we are from Qatar, not from Alaska.”
As winners of the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, held in Moscow, Qatar does have form.
They edged the defending champions Serbia 18-13 in the final of that tournament with a team that consisted of the legendary Yasseen Ismail Musa, Mohamed Saleem and Boney Watson.
Also in that team was Erfan Ali Saeed, who will play at Ashgabat 2017.
Ngombo played streetball (as 3x3 was known) during his childhood.
“It’s like coming back to the old days and this is nice,” he said. “Although I am a 5x5 professional player, I love to play 3x3, because it gives more freedom. The referees are not so strict and allow more contacts.”
In 2011, Ngombo was selected by the Dallas Mavericks, 57th pick of the NBA draft, but was immediately traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, who passed him on to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I was invited and went to Minnesota to play in the Summer League but they didn’t offer me a guaranteed contract, which I already had with Al Rayyan,” he said.
“My club didn’t release me and I had to come back to Doha.
“The NBA experience was too short, but nice and useful. Rick Adelman was the coach and I would’ve loved to play together with Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio and Wesley Johnson, but it didn’t happen.”
With an eye on gold, Ngombo says, “However, life goes on and I am happy to play basketball and be now in Ashgabat to fight for a gold medal.”
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