05/06/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/06/2019 03:24
Manama (Bahrain) - The last time Bahrain qualified for the FIBA Asia Cup was in 2013 when Mohammed Buallay was just 18-years-old. After becoming a regular in the Bahrain national team rotation, Buallay is optimistic about the future of the squad.
'I'm happy that we are improving every year,' says the promising forward. 'That shows we are on the right path to be a successful basketball country.'
In 2018, Bahrain finished as the top team in the Asia Cup 2021 GBA Pre-Qualifiers with a 5-1 record. They continued on track with a run at the Asia Cup 2021 Western Region Pre-Qualifiers which qualified them to the Asia Cup Qualifiers later this year. Buallay played in only one game during the GBA Pre-Qualifiers, but started to get more burn at the Western Region phase.
'I didn't play much before in the national team,' Buallay says. 'All I hope is that I can help my country in every single way.'
Bahrain proved to be a well-balanced team at the Western Region Pre-Qualifiers and Buallay was one of the key pieces of the quad, averaging 6.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 16.6 minutes per game. Buallay's strong performance carried on into the Bahrain Premier League and the Khalifa Bin Salman Cup playing for Al Najma and Al Riffa.
Buallay's basketball journey has come a long way. He started playing basketball through a friendly connection, but it was his coach who 'made him love the game'. Buallay still displays respect for his humble beginnings on his jersey by wearing number 14 at his club in honor and appreciation for his coach, Raoof Hubail.
The multi-purpose forward lists Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard as a player he looks up to. If Buallay continues to progress down the path to be an efficient two-way player like Leonard, he will be a key factor to help Bahrain qualify to the FIBA Asia Cup in 2021 in line with the Bahrain Basketball Association's plans to strengthen the team.
'We are already in a plan to be the best version of the Bahrain national team led by Isa Bin Ali Al-Khalifa and I think we are processing the plan well,' expressed Buallay.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Mohamed Buallay (@mohabuallay) on May 30, 2018 at 9:59am PDT
The 24-year-old Buallay is looking forward to play against Iran and Hamed Haddadi, whether it is at the Qualifiers or the Asia Cup itself. However, he still knows that the first priority will be to get Bahrain back to the FIBA Asia Cup in 2021 which will be their first appearance in 8 years. After a 12th place finish in the 2013 tournament in Manila, Bahrain would likely want nothing more than to qualify once again to compete among the best basketball nations in Asia.