ALEXANDRIA (FIBA Basketball World 2019 African Qualifiers) - Omar Tarek Oraby is one of those players who believe that playing at a FIBA Basketball World Cup can be a life-changing opportunity.
And as a result, Oraby went on to achieve a successful career at the University of Southern California, where he graduated in Social Sciences.
So, when FIBA.basketball caught up with the 26-year-old, he revealed how hosting Group C's second-leg of the African Qualifiers in June-July not only could confirm Egypt as a real contender for one of the five tickets for African teams for the 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup in China in 2019, but he also insisted it could transform basketball in the country for good.
"The World Cup is a personal goal of mine because I wasn't able to play in the World Cup 2014 as I was injured. Hopefully, I will play in China next year," he added.
What makes Oraby so confident for the remaining of the African Qualifiers? He doesn't hesitate to share the team's morale.
"Our goal now is to become a regular team that qualifies for the World Cup and tries to be one of the top teams in Africa. We also aim to try and improve our standings at the World Cup by competing and win games."
Playing last November's Group C's first-leg without some of their key players such as Assem Marei and Ehab Amin, Oraby insists that a 2-1 record to start their African Qualifiers is a positive result.
"We can’t wait to play in front of our home fans because it’s been a long time since we last had a competition like this for the senior team," the Al Gezira big man said.
Egypt will host Group C's Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco in a bid to secure a place in the 12-team second-round in September.
"It’s been a few years that Egypt's National League has been played behind closed doors. So, fans also can’t wait to follow basketball again. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, and it’s going to be huge for as a team and as a country," Oraby explained.
"Basketball fans in Alexandria are more enthusiastic and more involved in the game. Basketball is much bigger in Alexandria than it is in Cairo, it was a good decision to host the games there."
Oraby built a successful career with Egypt youth teams, winning the FIBA U18 African Championship 2008 in their capital city of Cairo, where they upset Angola in the final.
The following year, the Giza-native lived one of the biggest experiences in his life as Egypt faced off the USA, which featured Olympic champion Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward.
"That was one of the things that made see basketball differently. That was the main reason behind me going to College in the US. I played well in that tournament. The U19 Worlds turned around my basketball career, and it allowed me to see how basketball develops around the world. The more you play international competition, the better you are going to get."
Asked about the significance of playing for his country, Oraby replied: "The greatest feeling in the world is being able to play for your country because it’s not only about sports, it’s about something much bigger than that."
"It’s an opportunity where you represent your people in front of the whole world. The motivation is always there, every time you play, you look ahead to the next goal and tournament."
Although Egypt players got together early this week, they will only begin their training camp for June-July's African Qualifiers series in mid-May.