The two finalists Egypt and Japan pose for a group photo
Dominant Egypt sink Japan for title Kuwait rout Saudi Arabia to claim 3rd in wheelchair basketball tourney

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 11: Egypt’s wheelchair basketball team was crowned champions after beating Japan 74-65 at the finals played Saturday night at the 8-nation International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament organized by the Kuwait Olympic Committee. The Egyptians won all five of their matches in the five-day event, garnering 343 points while conceding 220 to finish with a point difference of 123 in the tournament that brought together teams from Japan, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Philippines and UAE under the supervision of International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA).

Loosing only in their fifth game in the finals against Egypt, Japan finished second with a point difference of 50, scoring 296 while conceding 246 and also won the best player award through team captain Muraka.
Kuwait earlier in the third place game, thrashed Saudi Arabia 70-40 to clinch the third slot in the tournament. Kuwait won three of the five games played, finishing with a point difference of 98, scoring 310 points while conceding 212.

Trophies were handed out to all participating teams, players and officials in the tournament by officials of the Kuwait Olympic Committee. In an interview with the Arab Times, Taufeeq Alloush, head of Classification Committee in the Asia-Oceania zone at the IWBF as well as Wheelchair Basketball expert worldwide, said the Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) is a very friendly organization and very keen on developing wheelchair Basketball not only in Kuwait but in the entire West Asian area, that’s why they have spent money and effort to bring in teams like Japan, Egypt and the Philippines and next year Australia and others might be invited to participate as well.  Among the aims of the tournament, according to Alloush, is to sharpen the skills of players within the region. “If you get to know how we play wheelchair basketball on a higher level, you’d see we had a beautiful audience and a beautiful final, most of the games were very close and the people enjoyed them,” said Alloush.

On classification, Alloush, a Lebanese citizen, stated that the classification committee of the Australian International Classifiers tried their possible best not to bother the teams much, but give them a real idea of the classification which led to some of the teams making some changes. Six players in the tournament had their classifications changed on the advice of the international classifiers present. With the classification which deals with the level disability, a player is observed on the court with his actions and classified from 1-4.5 accordingly. IWBF is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide opportunities for persons with a lower limb disability to play the game of wheelchair basketball.

The mandate of the organization includes,

* Establish the Official Wheelchair Basketball Rules; the Official Wheelchair Basketball Player Classification Handbook, the specifications for equipment and facilities; the Internal Regulations that govern the conduct of the Federation and ensure that they are enforced on all occasions.

* Establish the standards for the training and certification of referees, classifiers, commissioners and examiners; control and govern the licensing of international referees, classifiers and commissioners and maximize the use of experienced players in the training and certification of each of the above categories of officials.

* Control and maintain the classification of players and issuance of Player Identity Cards and Player Classification Cards.

* Regulate the transfer of players from one country to another.

* Raise funds, collect fees and accept contributions and subsidies and ensure that all resources are used solely to further the aims and objectives of IWBF and in accordance with the principle that IWBF is a non-profit organization.

* Implement an organized marketing programme that involves communication, public relations and demonstration events to instil awareness to the general public of the benefits of wheelchair basketball.

By: Iddris Seidu

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