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Interview with Pep Claros - Jan 14, 2015

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In our interview with Egyptian team head coach Pep Claros he revealed that he would give his best to fulfill our goal to qualify to Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016.

From our short communication period it's clear that Pep who is a positive person is hard worker and well planned. He is planning from now the player's physical levels during Ramadan holy month.

He has a good idea about the team, It was surprising that he already attended Ittihad tournament last year in Alexandria and also was in Lebanon were he watched Ismail Ahmed and has a lot of praise on the quality of his game.

1. The Egyptian spectators have a lot of faith in this new generation and you Pep to qualify for the Olympics. How do you see our chances?

We always have to dream big and have ambition but just keeping hard working, we can separate the reality that we still have to create than the one we would like to expect. So our chances will increase with hard work, preparation and mentality.

2. How did you see the performance of Egypt in the World Cup & 2013 African Championship?

In the world cup Egypt faced a tough group. National teams with winning experience, teams with players competing for years in the top leagues with success. Players with NBA potential or NBA background. I think it was a great opportunity to taste that level and recognize what is the direction that Egypt basketball must take in the future. Not just getting better and competing better also development wise in order to reach that quality.
In the Afrobasket 2013 I had the possibility to be in Ivory Coast and I enjoyed watching a team who was recovering after bad start and made a great surprise reaching the final meanwhile social changes where taking place at that time.
This two experiences with such a different result give you a lot of info about what it takes to get where you want to go. Maybe Egypt is not the worst in the WC and maybe is not the second best in Africa either. What is clear that these experiences were both very positive for our future from a strategy orientation and positioning point of view.

3. Which players have caught your eyes?

If you ask me this question before being named national team coach I could give you some names. At this moment, I have to be very respectful with all our players. When you want to work as a unit all our members will have their importance. Roles are always different but all players will be important.

4. The team is stuck with talented players in both paint positions (PF & C) which gives you a lot of versatility & depth including Assem Marei one of the best players in Africa, & 7'0 Anas Osama who plays for university of 'Louisville' (2013 NCAA champions). Exist about 10 capable candidates in both positions how would you deal with such interesting and tough choice?

Once we have all the group together we will evaluate the best ones. Injuries, college interferences even NBA scouts can make changes in our plans. I hope we can have them all but is quite soon to see this. What I know is that just with talent you don't win you need preparation and quality practices to be solid.

5. I guess the major problem you will face is that you would be with a totally new team for you only 3 months (with local players) and nearly 2 months (with foreign based players) before African championship starts which isn't long enough at all. What are your plans to overcome this main issue?

Time is always an issue and even more with the new generations because some are overseas and will get there later. I'm more worried about the camps we can run outside and how they adapt to work during and after Ramadan period because the Afrobasket is scheduled at the beginning of August and these dates are too close to reach our best physical level. However, this issue can't be an excuse if we program all perfectly.

6. The Egyptian league doesn't bring out players with high fitness levels would this be part of your assistance Pedro Monteiro's responsibility?

Our staff will work together so all of my assistants will have different tasks. The federation already has some people who can help in several aspects. Physical wise too. Pedro will help me to show and implant the methodology and way of work, Scouting our own players in our practices through films to improve and execute better. Introducing the rhythm and intensity we have to play. Working fundamentals and tactical details to reach individually and as a team. Etc. All of this just can be made with a good staff and the right tools.

7. The team lacks perimeter defensive specialists that can defend multiple positions (wing and guard positions). This was clear against Iran in World Cup. Exists in NCAA1 6'6 SF Abdel El Nader who plays for a good team 'Iowa State' and has good defensive skills and can shoot well the 3. Could you start to recall him as he never played for Egypt and doesn't even has an Egyptian passport which takes time to get?

The federation contacted Nader in the past. Now, still in Iowa state he's playing in a good conference. We will see if he's an option but no matter who makes the final roster the team will have to be aggressive and consistent in the defensive end.

8. Another prospect which never played for Egypt is guard Jusuf El Domiaty who plays for 'Bremerhaven' in German Bundesliga and is known for his shooting skills, Would you also follow such player?

We need to see and compare his level with some others. His approach, his status and his desire will tell us if he can make it or no.

9. With the international retirements of team captains PG Wael Badr & SG Sherif Geneidy exists a possible lack of experience and leadership not only on the court but also in the locker room. Would you ask them to return specially that they are still in good form?

I can't make the final roster from the distance and 8 months in advance without even seeing all of them. My mentality is always to open a door instead of closing one...but every case will be studied individually and not in the press but in a private meeting.

10. PF Ismail Ahmed (38 years old) is the best basketball talent in Egypt in the past 15 years. He's a kind of player that makes it all score, rebound, pass & defend. Since 2007 he rejects joining the national team despite being in a good form till today. Is it possible to bring back such player?

Ismail is the top quality. High level, and after what I saw last year in Lebanon and Alexandria he still dominates and he's a reference internationally speaking. He had an issue with the federation some years ago so if he's an option you should speak with both parts and see how close or far they are from the positions they were. I just can say same everybody knows. He's really talented.

11. Most of the Egyptian players doesn't make personal workouts to develop their basketball skills. For example we have shortage in players that shoots well off the dribble. Would you set some training programs to let them improve their game and weaknesses before you arrive and take the lead?

When the national competition is running I can't affect the teams work with individual training sessions. My assistants will inform me and we will control how some players are playing and developing.

12. Do you know well our main African rivals specially Angola, Senegal, Nigeria, & Tunisia?

I know these teams but remember Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Morocco and some others played very well and can be good if they bring more talents from abroad.   

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Men Women

African Championships Standings
Group A
 1. Nigeria 2-1 
 2. DRCongo 2-1 
 3. Mali 2-1 
 4. Ivory Coast 0-3 
Group B
 1. Morocco 3-0 
 2. Angola 2-1 
 3. C.Africa 1-2 
 4. Uganda 0-3 
Group C
 1. Tunisia 3-0 
 2. Cameroon 2-1 
 3. Rwanda 1-2 
 4. Guinea 0-3 
Group D
 1. Senegal 3-0 
 2. Egypt 2-1 
 3. Mozambique 1-2 
 4. S.Africa 0-3 

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