Lebanon defeat Jordan to reach FIBA Asia Championship quarterfinals

Lebanon defeat Jordan to reach FIBA Asia Championship quarterfinals
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Published September 30th, 2015 - 12:08 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Source: FIBA.com
Source: FIBA.com

Amir Saoud netted 20 points and Ali Haidar added 15 as Lebanon edged past Jordan 80-76 to reach the quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Championship where they will face the Philippines, who are led by former Cedars coach Tab Baldwin. Lebanon finished the second round in fourth place in Group F at 2-3, tied with Jordan, but the latter ended in fifth place courtesy of Lebanon’s head-to-head advantage.

Both teams entered the match knowing defeat would lead to elimination, and that was reflected by a tense opening. But Lebanon quickly gained the lead as Wael Arakji and Jay Youngblood successfully scored from their drives as the first quarter ended 16-12 in Lebanon’s favor.

The Cedars caught fire in the second as Amir Saoud made an immediate impact, netting 14 points in the period including four triples, while Rodrigue Akl, Youngblood and Jean Abdelnour added three triples apiece, as the Cedars entered halftime 45-30 ahead. Lebanon did a sterling job on the offensive end, but they were even better defensively, forcing the Jordanians to turn the ball over several times, while limiting the productivity of danger men Zaid Abbas and Sam Daghles.

However, it was a case of déjà vu for Lebanon in the second half as the inconsistency that has plagued Vesselin Matic’s side thus far in the competition came to the fore once more. Ali Haidar hit back-to-back triples to fire Lebanon ahead by 17 after the restart, but the Jordanians refused to lie down, and used the pick-and-roll perfectly to set up Mohammed Shaher, who was the recipient of several assists from Mahmoud Abdeen.

Jordan tried to reduce the deficit to under 10 points before the fourth quarter, and they nearly did, only for Wael Arakji to score back-to-back two-pointers as Lebanon held on to lead 64-54 going in the fourth.

Led by American naturalized Alex Legion and Abdeen, the Nashama continued their fightback, reducing the gap to three points, but fortunately for Lebanon they were able to maintain their superiority and survive the late scare.

Lebanon eventually wrapped up an 80-76 victory to set up a clash against the Philippines in the quarterfinals Thursday.

In the other quarterfinal matchups, defending champions Iran will meet 2013 bronze medalists South Korea in another tough battle, while hosts China will face India.

The winners of Lebanon/Philippines will face either Qatar or Japan in the semifinals. Only the champion will earn a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics, while the teams placed from second to fourth will take part in a separate intercontinental qualifying tournament.

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