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FEATURE: Five Egyptian basketball players abroad to watch
As always, Egyptian football is dominating the local sports scene in Egypt with almost no light shed on other sports. This is despite Egyptians excelling in almost all sports with a staggering 81 Egyptians qualifying to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio Di Janeiro.
One of the sports in which Egyptians are performing well in is basketball. The senior Egyptian national basketball team came second in the 2013 FIBA African Championship and more recently in the 2015 All-Africa Games. The Pharaohs had some bad luck at the 2015 FIBA African Championship, finishing fifth, but the youth team won the 2015 U-17 African Championship. The U-16 team also won the 2014 African Championship.
Egyptians have been raising their country’s flag high and proud on the domestic and international scenes. There are now over 20 Egyptian basketball players playing overseas in Europe and USA. Below we present the top five Egyptian basketball players playing abroad to keep an eye on.
Egyptian basketball players abroad
Assem Marei, BC Šiauliai
23-year-old forward Assem Marei started his career for Egyptian giants Zamalek SC in 2010 and played there for one year before moving to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) team Minnesota Mavericks. Marei ended the 2012/2013 season, his first, with huge success being named in the All-NISC Second Team, the NISC All-Tournament Team and the NISC Winer All Academic Team. Marei was also named in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All Central Region Team.
In his second season, Marei continued his superb form, and he was named in the First Team All-NSIC and the NSIC All-Tournament Team as well as receiving a DII Bulletin All-American Honorable Mention. Marei’s last season with the Mavericks was nothing short of sensational. The talented forward was named NSIC South Division Player of the Week four times and received All-NSIC First Team honors, Daktronics Central Region First Team honors and NABC Central Region First Team honors.
Marei finished his Mavericks career sixth all-time in scoring (1,600 points), seventh in rebounds (787 rebounds), second in blocks (161 blocks) and second in field goal percentage (59.1%). Marei then signed as a free agent for Lithuanian team BC Šiauliai in October 2015. Marei featured for the youth and senior national team in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 AfroBasket Championship and was named in the 2013 AfroBasket All-Tournament Team.
Ehab Amin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Athletics
An Alexandria native, 20-year-old point guard Ehab Amin played for Alexandria Sporting Club for 11 years and led his team to the 2012-2013 Egyptian League title and Super Cup before graduating and moving to St. John’s Military Academy in Wisconsin, USA, in 2013 to finish High School.
Amin went on to join Texas A&M – Corpus Christi University to play in the NCAA in 2014. The young Pharaoh had a solid debut against Our Lady of the Lake University (OLOL) posting two assists, two steals and four rebounds. Amin went on to play in 33 games, averaging 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game and was strong going to the basket, shooting 56-for-131 from the field and converting on 46-of-79 of his shots inside the arc. The Egyptian finished second on the team with 35 steals and made 27 assists in his first season.
The talented point guard continued his great form this season, playing in every game and averaging 7.6 points and 3.67 rebounds per game off the bench. Amin was named best U-16 Shooter in Africa in 2011 and named MVP of the U-16 African Championship in 2011. He was also named best point guard in Africa’s Under-18 division in 2012 and MVP of the U-18 African Championship in 2012. Amin led the Egyptian national team in steals and minutes in the 2013 World Cup and was second on the team in assists and rebounds as well.
Anas Mahmoud, Louisville Cardinals
Anas Osama Mahmoud is a 213 cm tall Egyptian basketball player playing for the NCAA team Louisville Cardinals in Kentucky, USA. Mahmoud started his youth career in his senior year of high school at West Oaks Academy in Orlando, Florida, averaging 13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots during the 2013-14 season. After gathering interest from universities such as Cincinnati, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, and Louisville, he decided to join Louisville to study and play basketball in April 2014.
Mahmoud’s playing time was limited in his first year with the Cards, playing 29 games in the 2014/2015 season and averaging 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Mahmoud drastically improved in his second season as he has already played 29 games, increasing every single statistic. Coach Rick Pitino has been impressed with his development and has begun to give him more minutes. The Pharaoh has scored 27 out of 56 field goals and 13 out of 33 free throws thus far in the season. Anas has represented Egypt in the 2012 FIBA U-17 World Championship but the 21-year old hasn’t been called up by the senior team thus far.
You Anas-tly must be kidding with this move. https://t.co/foeSEKzTgG
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) February 2, 2016
Abdel Nader, Iowa State University
Abdel Nader is a 23-year-old Egyptian currently playing for Iowa State University in Iowa, USA. After moving to the United States from Alexandria, Nader started playing basketball as a senior at Niles North High School in Illinois, leading the Vikings to their first sectional championship in the school’s 47-year history. He garnered First Team All-State honors, earned Chicago Sun-Times Class 4A Second Team All-State recognition, and was named to the ESPN Chicago All-Area team.
Nader then joined Northern Illinois University and played there for two seasons, averaging 6.11 points and 9.74 rebounds per game. He then transferred to Iowa State University and is now playing his second and final season as a senior. His performance with the Cyclones has improved drastically. Nader is averaging 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on the nation’s 13th ranked team.
Omar Samhan, Taranaki Mountainairs
Omar Hassan Samhan is a 27-year old American-Egyptian, who saw out his college career at Saint Mary’s. In the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, he led the Gaels on a magical run to the Sweet 16, before falling to Baylor. Samhan led St. Mary’s in their upset against Villanova, scoring 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the round of 32 game.
After college, Samhan went undrafted in the NBA draft. He elected to join Lithuanian team Žalgiris and left after only one season to join Philippine team Tropang Texters but left after a month with the team. He then moved to Europe joining Ratiopharm Ulm for the rest of the 2012/2013 season but parted ways with the club in June 2013 and joined Egyptian club Alexandria Sporting Club for one season.
Samhan then joined Aussie club Texas Legends in the NBL Development team but didn’t stick there for long. He kept on moving from team to team in the Australian league before settling at Taranaki Mountainairs of New Zealand. Samhan has trained with the national team on multiple occasions, but has yet to feature for the team, with events such as the Egyptian Revolution and a torn ACL keeping him from finally featuring for the Pharaohs.
With this crop of talent, it should only be a matter of time before another Egyptian plays in the NBA. Alaa Abdelnaby is the only Egyptian to have played in the NBA thus far, playing for the Portland Trail Blazers after being drafted from Duke University. He spent five years in the league, playing for Portland as well as the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Sacramento Kings.
There are many more Egyptian basketball players playing in respectable teams and leagues in the USA and all over Europe showing great enthusiasm and determination to prove themselves and feature for the Egyptian national team. Egypt is set to miss out on the 2016 Summer Olympics after coming 5th in the 2015 FIBA African Championship, but with such promising talents, the Pharaohs could achieve greatness in the upcoming championships, with the 2017 FIBA Africa Championship being the closest target.