BEIRUT: Lebanon won the WABA championship for the first time in four years, after beating the host Jordan 73-61 Thursday, and with it a ticket to Tokyo for the FIBA ASIA cup between Sept. 14 and 22.
The Cedars still have a game remaining before being crowned champions officially, as they meet bottom-placed Palestine Friday in a game whose result does not affect the standings.
“From all the medals I have won this one is very special,” said assistant coach Koko Krikorian.
Fadi al-Khatib scored 22 points, most of which came in the second half, along with eight rebounds. But the man of the match was without a doubt Elie Stephan, who scored almost half of Lebanon’s points in the first half. The Lebanese side went into the break leading 36-31, but they looked tired, with naturalized American Garnett Thompson alone missing seven free throws during the first two quarters.
But things changed in the second half, with Lebanon outscoring their opponents 19-13 in the third quarter as Khatib began to take charge of the game after Thompson sat out for committing four early fouls. Lebanon extended their lead to nearly 20 points in the start of the fourth quarter, before Sarkis emptied the bench, which only gave the hosts a chance to close the deficit to 12 at the end of the game.
“We did a big move playing with four guards for 20 minutes of the game which stretched Jordan defense, and gave us a big push to win the game,” said Krikorian.