Thu, 25 Aug 1994

Russian, Iranian teams arrive here for Basketball c'ships

JAKARTA (JP): Russia and Iran became the last teams to arrive for the fifth Independence Cup basketball championships yesterday and have less than 24 hours to recover before taking the court today.

The teams looked exhausted upon arrival at Soekarno-Hatta airport, but their faces were wreathed in smiles. Both tournament favorites landed at about the same time.

The Russian team appeared willing to talk tactics, but alas the tournament organizers failed to provide an interpreter for the non-English speaking Russians.

"We have sweet memories of here," Iranian team manager SH. Sedigh Poor said at the Wisata International Hotel which is housing all participating players and officials. Three Iranians: Said Khani, Omid Validi Pak and Mehran Shahintab played here last year as their team finished fourth at the Asian Championship.

Russia's other toughest challenge will come from Saudi Arabia which brought in players who scalped China, the Asian champion, in the preliminary round match of last year's Asian Championship here.

The Saudi players will form the backbone of the national team for the upcoming continent's sporting meet in Hiroshima. They, however, may face a serious trouble as Ali Sanhani, their three- point specialist, broke his leg during a recent training session in the Philippines and will definitely miss the tournament.

Earlier yesterday, the Philippine cagers entered the eight team-field tournament. The Southeast Asian champion team, made up of those in amateur league, will serve warning to the favorites. American Bobby Park is expected to lead its charge.

Other visiting teams the United Arab Emirates and South Korea have been here since Tuesday. The tournament will start today and wind up next Tuesday.


A last minute withdrawal of the West Javanese team mars the six-day event. The province's official in charge of technical affairs Surya Darma Majid said yesterday his team, composed of players from Bandung-based semi-professional club Siliwangi, was not well-prepared for the international event.

"We will be without our two Russian aces, besides we failed to win the recent Governor Cup here last month," Surya said. The Russians who will play for Siliwangi in the semi-professional league which kicks off in October, are slated to enter the country on Sept. 1.

Indonesian junior players who are preparing for the Asian Student Basketball Championship in Seoul in November take West Java's place. They are grouped with Saudi Arabia, Iran and South Korea in round-robin matches.

The Jakarta team will lead the local challenge, despite the doubt it will be a match for its gigantic opponents. Having nine key players who formed the nucleus of league champion Aspac, Jakarta will struggle only to avoid finishing at the wooden spoon.

"We have very limited time to make preparations," the Jakarta team's training director Ecky Tamtelahitu said. He sorted his players during the Governor Cup won by Aspac.

Another official also guarded his pessimism that Jakarta would notch an impressive showing. "This is not our strongest team," said Totok Sudarsono, who is also team manager of national leading club Pelita Jaya.

Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Hayono Isman will formally open the tournament this evening. (amd)

Today's fixture

Group A Jakarta v UAE Philippines v Russia

Group B Indonesia junior v Saudi Arabia Iran v South Korea