Posts Tagged ‘Rony Fahed’


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

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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

 


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.”


In Day 1 of the third edition of the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup taking place in Beirut, the hosts Lebanon started the game in cruise control, never giving the Philippines a chance at all to catch up, winning Game 1 of round robin play 74 -59. Fadi El Khatib, the Lebanese superstar returning from an injury, played for a bit more than 13 minutes and looked rusty as he scored a mere 4 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished 3 assists. Rony Fahed led the winners with a game-high 23 points, all but six of them in the first half, while Ali Mahmoud complimented him with an excellent second half, totaling 12 points in the game. Joseph Casio had 15 points and Marnel Baracel had 15 points for the Philippines, who will be playing Syria tomorrow, which lost to Qatar earlier today. Meanwhile, the Lebanese will be taking a break and resume to action against Syria on Monday.

After a 23 year absence, Iraq started their first game in a FIBA Asian competition on a high note, only to slip in a 76-65 decision to a young Kazakhstan team that is in rebuilding mode with players from the silver medal finish in the Asian championship U18 in 2008 and FIBA World Championship in New Zealand last year. One man show Michael Shamon’s game-leading 22 points weren’t enough for the Iraqi team, who had two other players score in double digits, while an all-around team effort by the winners were led by Dmitry Gavrilov’s 17 points. Both face the Chinese Taipei in their next games, with Kazakhstan going at them tomorrow while Iraq will rest and face them on Monday.

The second game of the day was a close one between the travel-weary teams Japan and the Chinese Taipei, with the former hanging on after an early 10 point lead with a scrappy 61-58 win. The game was marked by its lousy 3 point shooting on both sides, each hitting a miserable 18% of their 3 pointers. The difference showed in the rebounds, with Japan controlling the boards on a 35-16 advantage thanks to Kosuke Takeuchi’s eight. Takuya Kawamura had 15 points for winning Japan, who will face Iran on Sunday, while Chen Tzu – Wei had a game high 17 points for the Taipei, who face Kazakhstan tomorrow.

In a high scoring game unlike the rest of the games played today, Targuy Ngombo’s cup-high 39 points were more than enough to offset Michel Madanly’s 35 to ensure a Qatar 83-75 victory over the Syrian team. Qatar put a more  convincing display of game throughout the entire game, with a 12-0 run. Ngombo had help from his teammates, Mame Ndour with 18 points and 13 rebounds and Saad Ali’s 14 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds while none of the Syrians were able to crack the 10 point limit other than Madanly.  Qatar will be Jordan’s first test in this tournament tomorrow while Syria will be searching for its first win by playing the Philippines.

Check our blog out everyday for updates about the 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup 🙂


For the past 6 years, Lebanese have been known to be divisive because of politics. Many villages have constant feuds over a bunch of supposed politicians and you got brothers not talking to each other because two politicians can only get along under the table but not show it publicly, keeping the country in unrest.

But let’s put politics aside for once. This country unites under sports, and when our national team is playing basketball. all our differences are put aside and we root for one name: LEBANON.

Lebanese Basketball, Our Pride 😀

As you all know, the FIBA World Cup is about to start in about 6 weeks,  and yes, Lebanon is making its third straight appearance.  It all started last year after our national team played in the Asia Championship and made it to the semis to face the Chinese national team. Our team always had this jinx against the Chinese, where due to major height differences and players that play in the NBA (Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, etc…), the Cedars could never beat the Chinese in the past.

So came the semis, and Lebanon was hanging in close against a Yao-less Chinese team and managed to get a lead in the last two minutes. Coming down to the last seconds, the game was tied and mysteriously, one of the Chinese players fakes getting fouled by our Roni Fahed and gets three undeserved free throws, leaving China to beat our national team by 3  points, making Lebanon’s chances for qualifying to the World Cup harder than ever since both teams that play the final automatically qualify. Yet they still had a chance if they beat Jordan in the bronze medal game, which they failed to do, as they lost an 80-66 to the Jordanians.

FIBA World Championships 2010 - Turkey

Despite all that, it still had a slight chance to qualify, by being awarded one of the 4 wild cards. FIBA awards a wild card to a country based on different criteria, such as playing in its Zone’s qualification tournament, popularity of basketball in country, success of country, and government support.

A fee of 500,000 € (approx $765,000) was paid to be eligible for a wild card spot. A few months later,

(yes, you guessed it right) Lebanon was awarded a wild card spot and earned its third consecutive berth in the FIBA world championship. I know, many Lebanese say it isn’t as big as football, but believe me, going to Turkey to watch your national team play in a world cup of a popular sport is HUGE.

Last month, however, conflicts emerged in the Lebanese Basketball Federation that led to the resignation of nine of the the thirteen board committee members with the FBL chief and its members calling each other names, including “mosquitoes”, “lacking loyalty”, and “having other agendas”, which led to the idea that Lebanon might not participate.

If the July War back in ’06 didn’t stop our national team from participating in a World Cup, conflicts among the federation members weren’t going to either. 21 players were invited to try-outs for the team, where 15 of them are playing in the 32nd edition of the Williams Jones Cup that is taking place in Taipei. So far, Lebanon is undefeated in its first two games, where it defeated Japan 87-82 in the first game on July 14th and Chinese Taipei 93-84 yesterday.

After its participation ends in Taipei, our national team will be going to play the Japanese team in the Japan Invitational Games in three different cities. Then, Beirut will be hosting the 3rd Stankovic Cup, which also includes Japan and Chinese Taipei, and others such as the Phillipines, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Its final stop before the World Cup will be one week before the main event, where the team will be going to Ankara to play in the 3rd Efes World Cup, and will play against the likes of Argentina, the host Turkey, and Canada before finally heading to Izmir for the World Championship.

Being placed in Group D with defending champs Spain, Argentina, France, Lithuania and New Zealand,  we have a very fragile chance of making the top 4 in order to qualify to the knock out stages. Yet no one expected Lebanon to win a game in the last World Cup, and despite that, we won the first game vs. Venezuela (ok, you might be saying “so what, it’s Venezuela) but then we beat FRANCE, which had at the time 5 NBA players, (what are you going to say now?) in one of this country’s most legendary wins in international play.

Our National Team Will Make Us Proud No Matter What!

The Lebanese team’s chances in this tournament are to go end somewhere in the middle between their first two participations, where they finished dead last in the first and were on the verge of making the 2nd round in the next. With our star Fadi El Khatub trying to get over nagging injury problems, our team will have to refer to the likes of star point guard Rony Fahed, Matt Freije and Jackson Vroman to take on this difficult challenge as the underdogs in this group and make some noise by surprising the world in making knock-out stages.

All I know is, that come August 28th, every Lebanese person that is capable of traveling to Izmir, Turkey should do so to cheer their country playing vs. Canada and show national pride, and if not, to tune to their TVs to watch our players raise the Lebanese flag high. After all, our country doesn’t play in a World Cup everyday, and you never know when the next time might be.

GO LEBANON!

The Lebanese National Team Roster (Not Final Yet):

Rony Fahed

Ali Mahmoud

Rodrigue Akl

Jean AbdelNour

Elie Estephane

Elie Roustom

Ahmad Ibrahim

Ghaleb Rida

Fadi El Khatib

Ali Fakhreddine

Roy Samaha

Ali Kanaan

William Pharis

Matt Frieje

Jackson Vroman

Head Coach: Tab Baldwin

Asst. Coach: Nikos Dimitriou