#Meet_our_Champ: Zaid Abbas
May 27, 2019
He is regarded as one of Jordan’s greatest ever Basketball stars, and in the twighlight of his career, Zaid Abbas is preparing for one last major impact on the global stage when Jordan competes in the FIBA World Cup. In the fifth of our #Meet_our_Champ series, we catch up with Zaid and hear about his career and plans for the future:
When did you start playing basketball?
“I started playing basketball at the age of 16, I chose this sport because my brother, Islam Abbas, was a player and I was constantly following him and supporting him from the stands. Over time, I was attracted to basketball and I succeeded in the trials so that was when my journey in this sport began.
Where did you start your career in Jordan?
“In 2002, I was playing in the Al Quds tournament in Iraq with the Palestinian club, Eibal, with my brother Islam. Al Wihdat coach, Ghaith Al-Najjar, was there and invited me to play in the Jordanian league. I was very happy with this important step in my career as I realised its importance and the impact it could have.”
Tell us about your professional life in the Chinese League?
“Playing in China was the best thing that I ever did in my career. Playing for eight years with eight different clubs was a tremendous experience. The Chinese League is one of the best and most difficult basketball leagues in Asia. The clubs have a large number of well-known stars. I was able to become a star in China and my country was represented in a dignified manner.”
Living in China... was it easy for you to adapt there?
“The beginning was very difficult as the Chinese traditions are very different from what I was used to in the Arab world. There were differences with the food and of course the language was hard. I was very excited to learn Chinese in my first year there, specifically in Shanghai, and I reached a good level. But, the next year, I moved to Beijing only to find that the Shanghai dialect I learned was different from that in Beijing so I asked the translator to stay by my side all the time as I realised that learning Chinese was not easy.”
Can you please recap your memories of the Asian Cup 2011, when our national team came close to the title?
“The Asian Cup 2011 cannot be forgotten by anyone who loves Basketball in Jordan. We were so close to achieving two historic achievements for Jordanian sport and basketball in particular, winning the Asian Cup and reaching the 2012 London Olympics for the first time. But, in the end, we lost by one point to China, the host. The scene was sad that day, all the players had done their best but this is a win-lose sport.”
Was qualifying for the 2010 World Cup a defining moment for you and your teammates?
“Our participation in the 2010 World Cup was a dream come true for the players and Jordan as a whole. It was a great experience for all of us. Playing at the World Cup means you have reached the highest level of professionalism in Basketball, because you play against the best teams and players you may only see on television.” And now we have qualified for the second time to the next World Cup after a long qualifying campaign. In less than 100 days, you will be back in China.
How does this make you feel?
“Thank God, we qualified for the World Cup after a series of difficult and exhausting games. We have repeated out achievement of 2010 thanks to the cohesion of the team, its spirit and the support of the mass Jordanian public behind us, especially in the last two qualifying matches at home against China and New Zealand. We can now look forward to providing the best performances possible at the World Cup.”