Wuhan's work-in-progress provides a fecund Doha forum!
KUALA LUMPUR (Mageshwaran's AsiaScope) - The FIBA Asia caravan has moved from Wuhan (after the first and biggest event of the calendar) to Doha (for the biggest conglomeration of basketball administrators of the region - the 2014 FIBA Asia Congress).
Wuhan as a city is a work in progress. According to statistics, there is no other city in the world, as I write this, with as many construction sites as the provincial capital of Hubei - which is showing sure signs of turning into the Detroit of the Orient - in the pre-recession days that is.
The skyline coming up in Wuhan might have saved film-maker Marc Webb a couple of millions by using it as a ready-made set for the closing sequences of 'The Amazing Spiderman', but in terms of variety of architectural designs that dot it, the leading city in that respect is the Qatari capital of Doha.
In short, Wuhan has the quantity, but Doha has the variety.
The connections between Wuhan and Doha are just falling in place without much effort. After all, the longevity of supply from its natural resources at the disposal of Doha - in the form of petroleum and natural gas - is an irreplaceable factor for the potential economy - that will revolve around the manufacturing of motor vehicles including many top brands - of Wuhan.
In short, Doha holds the key to the future of the work in Wuhan.
Certainly more so in the basketball sense.
No team that participated - and without even the smallest iota of doubt - in the recently-concluded 5th FIBA Asia Cup came to Wuhan looking for mere participation. Yet no team came looking to win the title either.
Such was the approach of the teams, ranging from Iran - who became the first back-to-back FIBA Asia Cup winners - to SEABA minnows Indonesia and Singapore, who both lost all their games. The one common point on the agenda of all teams was "improving to the next level".
This is the theme the 2014 FIBA Asia Congress - taking place on Thursday (24 July) - will focus on as well.
FIBA Asia's goals are ambitious, but clear.
"A podium finish for at least one FIBA Asia team from the 2020 Olympics onwards; a podium finish for at least one FIBA Asia team from the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup onwards," was the simple and straightforward Mission Statement.
And the meeting in Doha will set course in consolidating the gains made in Wuhan.
The most conspicuous of all the gains in Wuhan also resulted in those teams making it to the Semi-Finals.
On the face of it, the Semi-Final line-up featured four of the top-five ranked teams at the 27th FIBA Asia Championship, but those in the know would certainly agree with me that the rosters of these four teams in Wuhan looked more chalk and cheese compared to those that took the court in the Filipino capital of Manila less than a year ago.
Iran looked to sort out issues in their offense combinations between Arsalan Kazemi and Hamed Hadadi - ironically at the very same venue of Wuhan, where the only two NBA players from Iran last played together when the Iran team had come apart losing to Jordan in the Quarter-Finals of the 26th FIBA Asia Championship.
Gilas Pilipinas had a reality check as to whether they can truly shrug off the "lambs outside" tag - and I should say succeeded to a large extent.
Iran and the Philippines, the two teams heading to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup to be played in Spain (30 August-14 September) couldn't have asked for a sterner test at what otherwise was thought of as a 'soft launch' to their preparations.
Chinese Taipei, who played their first final at a FIBA Asia event in more than half a century, went on to prove that their win over the across-sea, more fancied China in the Quarter-Finals at the 27th FIBA Asia Championship was no fluke, nor a one-off affair - their young roster repeating the result.
The biggest winners from Wuhan - more so because they finished outside the medals bracket - were China.
The hosts surprised quite a few regulars on the FIBA Asia beat with a roster comprising all players born in the 1990s. The surprise getting only more and more pleasant as the tournament progressed for, at the end of the tournament, if there was any one team that had achieved unquestionable progress, it was China.
The aim of the FIBA Asia Cup is not to look for excellence, but merely to provide a platform to those in pursuit of excellence. On that count, Wuhan has indeed emerged with flying colors. The discussions in Doha, therefore, can take place with a lot of optimism than not.
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