Posts Tagged ‘Fadi El Khatib’


It’s this time of the FIBA World Cup, where 16 of the 24 teams advance to the Round of 16 to play knockouts, while the other 8 teams return back to their respective countries, wondering where did they go wrong, why didn’t they advance, and what do they need to do to make it to the next level.

This has been the same story for the Lebanese national team over the past 8 years. In three participations in basketball’s version of the World Cup, Lebanon has always been knocked out early from the tournament, always finishing in the bottom two of its group. You can always understand their performance in the 2002 World Cup in Indianapolis, where they lost all three games to Puerto Rico, Brazil and Turkey. Back then, it was their first performance ever on the world stage and there was a lack of experience in addition to that the other three teams were better than them. In Japan 2006, the Lebanese team made a huge improvement, despite how bad its basketball league was getting, and beat Venezuela in its first game of the tourney, giving the Lebanese hope of climbing the ladder to the Round of 16 as it needed one more win, preferably Nigeria to take its place. It lost to Argentina and Serbia, and then played France, a national team that has 4 players in the NBA (and I’m not counting Tony Parker since he was absent for the game). Lebanon beat France by a point, easily being the upset of the tournament, and suddenly making our national team looking one of the best after that historical performance. Yet that win in a way was useless, since Lebanon still needed to beat Nigeria in order to qualify, and if it wins, it will not only advance, but take a surprisingly second position in the group. Yet the lack of energy showed in the Lebanese team as they played the Nigerians, where Lebanon was trailing throughout the game by 10 points and could have always came back into the game, yet didn’t have the focus to do so, and since they lost their games in bunches of points, their point differential didn’t help and got them out of the first round again. Despite all that, Team Lebanon gave an impression that its next time would be memorable one and will finally get us to play knockouts for once with the big guys.

Well, 2010 in Turkey came, and for the third straight time, yes, Lebanon got KO’d from the first round AGAIN.

Why?

The Lebanese team was frustrated by the way it performed, and it showed clearly on their faces

Lebanon started off this edition of the World Cup in style by beating Canada. The game went well for the Lebanese team, who managed to turn a mid-3rd quarter deficit of 9 points into a 10 point win behind Fadi El Khatib’s magical performance, 31 points and 8 rebounds. After I watched that game, I personally thought Lebanon was going to defeat anyone it’d play, since  El Khatib and Rony Fahed were shooting the lights out of the ball, they looked so unstoppable, although the rest of the team didn’t perform as well, something that should have been taken into consideration because in its next game vs. France, it was obvious how bad things were. When El Khatib and Fahed struggled, no one was there to pick up for them. OK, Jackson Vroman had 19 points, but who else was there to score the points? Everyone saw how ex-NBA player Matt Freije knocked down three 3 pointers in the first 5 minutes, but no one cared to see that Freije shot 36% vs. Canada and 33% vs. France. Eventually, Lebanon were unable to repeat the upset, and lost by 27 points. Lebanon got a bye day after that, and prepared for the big game vs. New Zealand, a game that all Lebanese fans expected to win and would be more than enough to get Lebanon through (Finally!) to the second round. Well, think again. New Zealand were firing on all cylinders, jumping to a 32-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and only to improve after that to win by as much as 32 points. Things only went downhill for Lebanon, including a loss to world champs Spain. Funny to mention, Lebanon were actually UP when Jackson Vroman blocked Marc Gasol’s shot, only to get a foul and a technical to give him 4 fouls after that in the second quarter, giving Lebanon another loss, this time by 34 points. Now I am not saying Lebanon was going to win, but seriously, when Marc Gasol scores 21 more points after Vroman is out in less than 10 minutes, you got to give Vroman credit. The last game vs. Lithuanua was a game for Lebanon to save face, and try not lose by 27+ points this time. Guess what, Lebanon were very close again, and another dubious call on, yes, Vroman that pulled him out of the game gave the Lithuanians a break. Yet the game didn’t end in a twenty something deficit, and the Lebanese at a point could have came back into the game, but were unable to score, and eventually broke down in the end and lost by 18 points, putting them out AGAIN early in the tournament.

Let me tell you a few things:

1. When you are supposed to have “star” players, they should perform at a “star” level. This is Matt Freije’s stats in the World Cup:

vs. Canada: 12 points on 4 for 11 shooting (4 for 7 on 3-pointers)

vs. France: 11 points on 4 for12 shooting (3 for 8 on 3-pointers)

vs. New Zealand: 4 points on 1 for 7 shooting (0 for 3 on 3-pointers)

vs. Spain: 0 points on 0 for 3 shooting (0 for 1 on 3-pointers)

vs. Lithuania: DNP (Surprise!)

Seriously, were you expecting him to play vs. Lithuania? The best shooting game he had was  36% and in that game he failed to make a basket inside the 3 point line? Are you kidding me? This is your “star” player?

2. Ever heard of an assist-turnover ratio? Well, when your assists are double or triple your turnovers, that means your team is in good shape. Take a look at this:

vs. Canada: 10 assists to 10 TOs

vs. France: 11 assists to 17 TOs

vs. New Zealand: 10 assists to 21 TOs

vs. Spain: 5 assists to 20 TOs

vs. Lithuania: 17 assists to 16 TOs

That is just STINKING bad, especially that Spain game. FIVE ASSISTS? No one told them about passing the ball? The Lithuania game was good, which explained why they were hanging in till almost the end.

3. Bench production:

vs. Canada: 7 points

vs. France: 9 points

vs. New Zealand: 24 points

vs. Spain: 11 points

vs. Lithuania: 24 points

Usually, the bench should have AT LEAST 30-35 points so you can say that you have an effective bench. Basically there was Jean Abdel Nour, Ali Mahmoud and Ali Fakhreddine who were efficient off the bench, but that was about it. I mean, Eric Gordon was scoring these numbers ALONE off the bench for the US every night.

Players to praise: Fadi El Khatib, Jackson Vroman (despite temper issues that screwed him in three of four losses), Rony Fahed, Jean Abdel Nour, Ali Fakhreddine

Players that disappointed: Matt Freije

The rest should have played more, especially Ghaleb Reda, where I’ll never understand him only playing in trash time where he can be much better.

Overall, Lebanon’s national team for basketball had a tough draw, playing three of the top teams in the world and two mediocre teams. Yet after seeing those Spain and France suffer in group play while Lithuania proved to be a top tier, one would think Lebanon actually had a chance to beat those teams and New Zealand and make it to the second round. Yet these issues should be looked into before making plans to make the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 FIBA World Championships.

Despite all that, we are proud of our Lebanese national team. Go Lebanon!

No matter what, the Lebanese fans are always behind their team


The final day of the group play in the FIBA World Cup took place in style, with only three teams, Lithuania, hosts Turkey, and USA, advancing undefeated to the Round of 16. Argentina, perfect in its first 4 games, shockingly lost to Serbia 84-82, yet earned an extra day of rest in the process. Luis Scola led the way with 32 points, becoming the all-time leader in scoring for Argentina, who led by 13 early in the game but couldn’t hold onto it. Serbia wins Group A and will face Croatia in the Eighth Finals, while Argentina is set to play Brazil, who beat Croatia later in the day 92-74.

Lebanon had slight hopes in qualifying to the second round by defeating Lithuania big and having New Zealand lose big as well. As usual, Lebanon started tough with Fadi El Khatib knocking down his shots and managing to keep the score tied at 16 by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter began with Lithuania managing to break out, until a point where Lithuania was up 30-25, that the Lebanon-Spain scenario came back into play, with a questionable foul being called on Lebanon, that led to Jackson Vroman picking an unsportsman lite foul, leading to a six point play for Lithuania that sort of made the game difficult for the Lebanese to come back. Yet despite it all, Rony Fahed scored 13 of 19 points in the first half to keep Lebanon trailing by 7 by the end of the first half. The third quarter was something similar to the second quarter, with Lebanon being unable to contain the Lithuanians scoring, giving Lithuania a 13 point lead. Yet the 4th quarter started, and by 3 minutes of play, the score was 4-0 for Lebanon, who had in one play six chances, but were only able to score one point of them, giving in to Lithuania’s Gecevicuis’s 16 points and eventually winning the game 84-66 to take a perfect record to the Round of 16 and play China, while Lebanon, despite Jackson Vroman’s 15 points, will once again head back to Beirut wondering how can they improve themselves to advance past the first round after three unsuccessful tries. It is to be noted that starter Matt Freije, Ghaleb Reda, Elie Stephan and Rodrigue Akl did not play this game. On the other hand, New Zealand beat France 82-70 to face Russia, while France will play Group C winners Turkey.

Team USA had a relatively easy game and beat Tunisia 92-57 behind Eric Gordon’s 21 points off the bench, despite having it tough in the first half where the Americans were unable to hold a good lead more than a minute or 2. The Americans will play Angola in the second round.

Other Results:

Angola 55 – 76 Australia,  Jordan 73 – 91 Germany,  Slovenia 65 – 60 Iran,  

Puerto Rico 79 – Ivory Coast,  Greece 69 – 73 Russia,  Turkey 87 – China 40

 Spain 89 – Canada 67

Round of 16 Schedule

Saturday September 4:

6:00 PM:  Serbia vs. Croatia

9:00 PM:  Spain vs. Greece

Sunday September 5

6:00 PM:  Slovenia vs. Australia

9:00 PM: Turkey vs. France

Monday September 6

6:00 PM: USA vs. Angola

9:00 PM: Russia vs. New Zealand

Tuesday September 7:

6:00 PM: Lithuana vs. China

9:00 PM: Argentina vs. Brazil

 


The 5th day of round robin play in the basketball’s version of the World Cup continued with the great teams making themselves stand out from the rest. Argentina, Lithuania, hosts Turkey, and the USA are expected to top each of their groups, while teams like Canada, Jordan, Tunisia and the Ivory Coast are expected to come out at the bottom.

Team Lebanon played 2006 world champs Spain yesterday in Izmir, and as the game started, the Lebanese team was playing as if they had different players from those that played against France and New Zealand, where behind Jackson Vroman’s play, they managed to come on top in the first quarter by a point. Yet the second quarter started, and the fouls started piling up for the Lebanese, where the calls became so crazy to a point that Vroman blocked Marc Gasol’s shot, and got called a foul and a technical to give him 4 fouls when the game was still mid second quarter. Having been forced to sit out Vroman, Lebanon coach Tab Baldwin had no one else to play defense on the Spanish center, where Gasol managed to score 21 points after only scoring a mere 4, creating problems for the Lebanese team and once again, killing them in the game to give Spain a 91-57 win and improve its chances in qualifying after suffering two surprising setbacks against Lithuania and France. It is to note that the ENTIRE Lebanese team had FIVE assists and TWENTY turnovers. Jackson Vroman led Lebanon with 22 points,  9 rebounds and 2 assists while Marc Gasol had 25 for Spain. Lebanon’s chances for qualifying are very low after New Zealand beat Canada, giving it one more win than Lebanon and making the Lebanese’s last game against Lithuania a must win and for New Zealand to lose by a huge point differential. It would also need a major improvement from its star players Matt Freije, who was scoreless in the loss and Fadi El Khatib, who only had 10 points.

In Group A, perfect Argentina tried to run away from winless Jordan, but managed to do so in the fourth quarter  by winning 88-79. In Group B,  Team USA rolled over Iran in style with an 88-51 win. Group C saw a difficult clash between Turkey and Puerto Rico that saw Turkey rally from behind in the third quarter after a slow start to win its group by defeating the Puerto Ricans 79-77. Group D saw a clash between perfect teams Lithuania and France, where the former team dominated in a 33-12 run that won the Lithuanians the game 69-55.

Other scores:

Serbia 94 – 79 Australia

Angola 92 – 88 Germany

Croatia 84 – 64 Tunisia

Brazil 77 – 80 Slovenia

China 80 – 89 Russia

Ivory Coast 60 – 97 Greece

Canada 61 – 71 New Zealand


Fadi EL KHATIB(LABANON).JPGThe FIBA World Championships in Turkey began  with all 24 teams playing their first game, some were very close games, other were blowouts, and some even included impressive comebacks.

At 6:30 PM, Lebanon played its first game against Canada, with the Lebanese jumping to an early lead and finishing the first quarter strong, yet the middle was dominated by Canada, which led to a 20-20 tie at the end of the 1st. Canada managed to dominate the second quarter with Lebanon trying to come back numerous times, yet unlike the first quarter, the first half ended with Canada leading 37-34. The Canadians managed to increase their lead throughout the 3rd quarter to as much as 9 points, yet Lebanon’s “Tiger” Fadi El Khatib had other plans in mind, erupting for 16 points in the third quarter on perfect 5 for 5 shooting from the field to bring the lead down to 1 point. The 4th quarter was played out like the end of the third, Lebanese dominance from all sides and El Khatib and Rony Fahed taking over to win the 4th quarter 24-13, eventually winning the game 81-71, giving Lebanon its first World Cup win since the upset of France in ’06. El Khatib had a marvelous game with a game-high 31 points and 8 rebounds, helped by Rony Fahed’s 17 points and Matt Freije’s 12 points, all three pointers while Canda was led by Joel Anthony’s 17 points, Denham Brown’s 13 points and Andy Rautins 10 points, mostly in the first quarter.

The major upset of the night however also came in Group D, with defending champs Spain and France clashing off after Lebanon’s game. Spain started the game strong, limiting the French only to 9 points in the first quarter and it seemed that the Spainards had the game in hand, only for French Mickael Gelabale to spark a 14-5 run assisted by Andrew Albicy and Nicolas Batum, who took on the second half scoring 12 of his 14 points to give France a lead it would never relinquish, shocking the champs with a 72-66 win. Gelabale had 16 points and 6 rebounds for France, helped by Albicy’s 13 points. Spain was led by Juan Carlos Navarro’s 17 points and Rudy Fernandez’s 13 points, whose technical foul and defensive errors were major in costing Spain the game.

Unlike the two previously mentioned games, USA had it easy going, defeating the young Croatians 106-78 behind a strong second quarter that held Croatia to only 6 points and outscored them by 20 points. Eric Gordon, one of the players who weren’t expected to make the final roster, led the Americans off the bench with 16 points, and had Kevin Durant help him with 14 points, as well as Chauncey Billups’ 13 points and having Russell Westbrook and Rudy Gay contribute with 10 apiece. Croatia’s good first quarter was not enough to keep it hanging in there with Team USA, as Bojan Bogdanovich’s 17 points were not enough to pose a challenge for the Americans.

Other results include:

Australia 76 – 75 Jordan

Angola 44 – 94 Serbia

Germany 74 – 78 Argentina

Tunisia 56 – 80 Slovenia

Iran 65 – 81 Brazil

Greece 89 – 81 China

Russia 75 - 66 Puerto Rico

Ivory Coast 47 – 86 Turkey

New Zealand 79 – 92 Lithuania


Fadi El Khatib recieving the Stankovic Cup from President Michel Suleiman. Congratulations Lebanon!

Lebanon always had its club Sagesse, none other, winning Asia championships and events, like in 1999, 2000 and 2004, right?

Now you can add the 2010 Lebanese national team’s name to Sagesse. It did not just win.

It kicked ass.

After leading the game from start to end (almost, Japan led by 1 at the beginning :P), the Lebanese national team cruised to the game after a strong first quarter for a 97-59 win, with Rony Fahed leading the way with 23 points, helped by Fadi El Khatib’s 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and Jackson Vroman’s efficient 16 points.  Winning by as much as 41 throughout the game, Lebanon finished the 1st quarter up by 21, with El Khatib’s 10 points off 4 shots being the major difference as well as Fahed’s two of seven three-pointers coming in that quarter as well.

Meanwhile, the Japanese team were facing a lot of trouble, and were playing as if they were a completely different team from the series they played the winners in Japan, being dominated on the rebounds and points in the paint and had only one player score more than ten points, Takumi Ishikazi with 14.

Playing in front of a packed home crowd in Ghazeer, the Lebanese finished this tournament with a perfect record of 6 wins and was awarded the cup from the huge basketball fan Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, who was accompanied by Interior minister Ziad Baroud and his presence was thanked for by FIBA Asia Deputy Secretary General Hagop Khajirian, who also said that basketball is a “religion in Lebanon. And the presense of the President of Lebanon only enhances that reputation.”


After the two big games today, every basketball fan got what he wished for.

Two semi finals, both close games that were decided on a shot.

That shot went in, and helped Japan win.

That shot went out, and put Lebanon in the final.

In a rematch of the Opening Day game, Lebanon and the Philippines faced a game that had fans from both teams, a rare feat, in the Ghazeer stadium. Unlike the first match however, this was a close game that went on to the last seconds after a last second shot by the Philippines barely touched the rim, giving Lebanon their sixth straight win and helping them remain the only undefeated team in this tournament. After leading by as much as 10 in the 4th quarter, the Filipino team kept on doing what it did best; knock down 3 pointers, yet at a more constant rate to bring down the score to one point, 78-77. Yet with a lot of free throws made and missed, the score reached 81-80 and the Philippines had one more chance to win the game but missed a long three pointer to end a not so bad run for them in this tournament, while Lebanon continue their journey to the gold medal game in hopes of winning this tournament undefeated. Fadi El Khatib, improving game after game while recovering from an injury, had 25 points and 7 rebounds but 6 of his team’s 10 turnovers. Jackson Vroman helped the Lebanese team as well with his 23 points while Marcio Lassiter had 25 points for the Philippines.

Lebanon will be facing Japan, who outlasted Qatar in overtime 78-76 thanks to its great player Takuya Kawamura, who tied the score in regular time at 64 with a crucial three pointer and then another shot in OT to stop a Qatar rally back in the game. Kawamura led the Japanese with 18 points, 8 in the last quarter, with 4 other players in double digit scoring. Meanwhile, Targuy Ngombo was Qatar’s go-to guy and led the game with 31 points, but they weren’t enough to give the 2004 champs another crack at the title.

Tomorrow at 9 PM, the final will take place as both teams played each other a best of 3 series in Japan where the hosts lost the series 2-1 as this game is expected to be very interesting since both teams are performing at a very good level in this Cup.


In the last day of the group stage play for the 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup  taking place in Ghazeer, Lebanon, the host Lebanese national team is the only unbeaten team in this tourney after defeating previously unbeaten Qatar and topped Group B, facing Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. Japan topped Group A and avoided all possible confusions of qualifying by beating Iraq, hence knocking them out. Syria was the lone team from Group B not to qualify as well; unlike Iraq, it lost all its games, recently to the World Cup-bound Jordan, who hasn’t won a game before in the tourney. Meanwhile, the battle for the second position in Group A ended with Iran walking all over the Chinese Taipei. How did all this happen? Who faces whom in the quarterfinals on Friday?

In the last game of round robin play, the clash of the unbeaten teams took place between the hosts Lebanon and Qatar. The storyline of the game was the same for the first twenty minutes, as Lebanon would jump to a six or seven point lead, then Qatar would catch back up. Eventually, by the end of the third quarter, both teams were tied, and with Lebanese Jackson Vroman’s free throw at the end, the game was tied at 65 and entered overtime. Yet once again, Fadi El Khatib, 18 points,  had 6 of Lebanon’s 12 points in OT, to give the Lebanese team their fourth straight win and top Group B to face Kazakhstan, who had a bye day today. Targuy Ngombo had a game high with 26 points, but was not enough to prevent the Qataris from receiving their first loss in the tournament and will have to face the Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.

In other Group B action, unlike the former clash mentioned, this was a battle of the teams that have not won a game yet between Syria and Jordan, which ended in favor of the World Cup-bound team 78-66. Both teams were on a three game losing streak, including Syria having to forfeit the Lebanon game due to the chants by the Lebanese crowd. The game was in Jordanian control from start to finish, with the lead reaching as much as 21 points due to the help of Ayman Idais (29 points, 12 rebounds) and Wisam Al Sous (21 points). With this win, Jordan finished fourth in its group, enough to help it qualify to the quarterfinals to face Group A winners Japan. Meanwhile, Michel Madanly’s 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists were not enough for the Syrian team to win a game and crack the quarterfinals, hence ending a disappointing journey in this edition of the Stankovic Cup.

In Group A, things were slight more complicated, as no team won all its games nor lost all its games and all had a chance to make or break. Japan played Iraq in a game where if Japan won, it would top Group A, otherwise it would give Iraq a chance to qualify. Yet let’s not confuse ourselves about this, because Japan did what the other three teams in the group wanted: win the game. Like Jordan did against Syria, Japan dominated the game from the beginning and never really Iraq a chance to get into the flow of the game after jumping to a 15-4 lead, eventually winning the game 87-72. Kosuke Takeuchi had a game high 26 points, 10 from the free throw line. and 17 rebounds for the winners, while Mustafa Hamazeh had 15 points for the Iraqi team, who ended their first tournament in 23  years with a legendary OT win over Iran the day before.

The other crucial matchup that took place was between Iran and Chinese Taipei, where both teams were playing to win as they weren’t guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. The game turned out to be anything but crucial, as Iran ended a close first half on a high note and led the way in the second half by as much as 26 points, only to win 86-67 to take second place in Group A and face the Philippines in the quarterfinals, while the Chinese Taipei will have to deal with Qatar. Asghar Kardoust had a game high 24 points along with 11 rebounds, while teammates Ali Baheran (2o points, 5 assists) and Moosa Nabipoor (13 points, 18 rebounds) were also effective in this win. Meanwhile, Chen Shun-hsiang’s 13 points weren’t enough to avoid the Qatari team in the next round.

Quarterfinals Schedule (Friday August 13th):

12:00 PM: Iraq – Syria (Classification 9th-10th place)

2:00 PM:  Iran – Philippines

4:00 PM:  Qatar – Chinese Taipei

6:00 PM: Lebanon – Kazakhstan

8:00 PM: Japan – Jordan