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 Dec 31 2009 

  Basketball growing in popularity in Syria

Syria's leading basketball player is Michel Maadanli. His first love was 
soccer before he switched allegiance.

 

Like many other Middle Eastern countries, football is the sport enjoyed by the widest demographic in Syria. But the country's leading basketball team, Al Jalaa, are hoping that the growth of their sport will soon overtake football.

Soccer is currently the most popular sport in Syria, but the Beautiful Game could soon be challenged by the growth of basketball. Syria's leading basketball player is Michel Maadanli. His first love was soccer before he switched allegiance.

Michel Maadanli said, "The team that I play for, Al Jalaa Aleppo, are gradually building up a good reputation in the basketball world. A number of ex-NBA players have played for the team in recent years and there are currently some on our roster. They have great knowledge and experience of the game, having played at the very highest level. I think that having them around is helping Syrian basketball to develop. I believe that the home-grown players in the league will improve and that, in turn, can only help our national team."

Al Jalaa are Syria's most successful Basketball team. Damond Williams is one of the team's three US players. He has made a significant impact on the team in the 12 months since he joined them.

Damond Williams said, "When I first stepped off the plane, I felt a sense of peace that just overwhelmed me. Syria is well secure, well protected and the people here are the best people I've been exposed to our of travelling to about four continents. Wherever you go, kids love you, people respect your job. Her, like I said, walking out on the streets, walking around, checking out the shops and doing this and that, people show you love."

Syria are currently ranked 46th in the FIBA world rankings and 11th in the Asian rankings. If the national team is to improve, then the Basketball Federation needs to develop and nurture more talented players like Michel Maadanli.

cctv.com

 

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