Sunday, 24 April 2011, 08:04 GMT
2011: An historical season for Duhok Sports Club

Duhok basketball team celebrates winning the Iraqi Basketball Cup, April 16./ PRESS PHOTO

The Kurdish Globe
By Zakaria Muhammed--Erbil

Duhok basketball club earns league and cup titles in the same year

Duhok sports club made its way into Iraqi basketball history after winning the Iraqi Basketball Cup for the first time following its success over Al Shurta in the final. Duhok played the final match on April 16 at Al Shurta indoor hall in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, just 11 days after winning the Iraqi basketball league title for the third consecutive year.

Duhok controlled the game from the beginning and kept up the pressure until the last minute, winning 81-70. It finished the first period at 18-14. In the second period, both teams were close and both scored 25 points. The other two periods ended with scores of 20-14 and 18-17.

As always, the three star players, Qutaiba Abdullah, Ali Amir and Muhammed Zyad, played an outstanding role by scoring most of the points in the first two periods. Rahman Ahmed and Hikmat Abid also impressed the fans with their exceptional performance and technique.

"Duhok was very well prepared for the match because the players went through intensive training sessions and spent several days in Baghdad," said Samir Barwary, Duhok club media manager.

Barwary attributed Duhok's success to the skill of coach Khatab Omar who found the opponent's weak points. As a result, Duhok earned another title. The season was a golden one for Duhok, as it won three titles: Kurdistan Basketball League, Iraqi Basketball League and Iraqi Basketball Cup.

"Despite facing one of best teams of the country, I expected my players to play a good game and finish the game in Duhok's favor," said Omar, thanking the fans for cheering for Duhok for the entire game.

On the challenger's performance, Omar said, "Al Shurta played well in the second period and tried hard to control the game, but this did not continue in the other periods. Generally speaking, my team was better in every respect."

Duhok player Rezan Haji said, "I am so happy to win the third title this year. I believe this is a great achievement for Duhok and for all Kurdish people as well. What Duhok showed today was the real game of basketball. We owe it to the coach who led us to this great achievement. We also shouldn't forget the club's administration support."

This year, 21 clubs participated in the Iraqi basketball cup. Duhok reached the final mach after defeating Umal-Mosul, Nasriya, Hilla and Kahraba.

After all the basketball tournaments in Kurdistan Region and Iraq ended, Duhok received an invitation to take part in a friendly competition with three other clubs, but the administration board officially declined, citing player fatigue. The club will lend some of its star players to the Iraqi national team for games in the future.

"The reason we declined to take part in Munzir Shnawa competition is because our players have put in a lot of effort and energy during the entire season. Some of our players have been injured in past competitions. We need to give them some rest," explained Rizgar Othman, Duhok assistant coach, who believes player safety is more important than winning a friendly competition.

Observers think Duhok can still compete in other championships, as the team has enough players who want to win more titles for the team.

Unlike other Kurdish clubs in the past decade, Duhok has paid great attention to basketball. The club has a long history with the game. Duhok's basketball team was founded in 1972 and started becoming strong in 2009 when it won the Iraqi basketball premier league title for the first time in club history. Duhok repeated 2009's win and become Iraqi champion in 2010 and 2011.