Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’


After 11 days of competition, the World Cup should be getting tougher, and the great should be known from the good. Blowouts shouldn’t be expected, but underdogs overcoming the odds can happen anytime as we saw in Day 12.

In the first game of the quarterfinals, defending champs Spain played Serbia in a hard fought game that was decided on a near buzzer beater. Serbia came out strong early in the game, riding the hot hands of Nemanja Bjelica and Novica Velickovic – 21 points combined in the first quarter – to take a 27-23 lead at the end of the first. The second quarter played out as the first as Serbia increased its lead to 8 by halftime with the help of Marko Keselj off the bench. Spain started coming back slowly into the game with the help Juan Carlos Navarro (27 points) in the second half, and cut the lead to a mere three points by the end of 3 quarters. Yet the final quarter was the craziest, with Serbia jumping to an 8 point lead with four minutes remaining. Yet Spain wouldn’t die that easily, tying the game with 25 seconds behind Marc Gasol’s basket. Yet the Serbians, leading throughout the game, wanted to take revenge from the Spainards after losing to them in the Euro Basket final last year, and with 3.1 seconds left on the clock, Milos Teodosic knocked down a far straightaway three pointer, to win the game for Serbia 92-89 and shock the world with the win by knocking out the world champs and returning to the semis for the first time since 2002.  Velickovic and Keselj led a balanced effort for Serbia with 17 points apiece as Teodosic had 12.

Not as exciting as the earlier game, Turkey punched Slovenia hard in the stomach as the hosts ran over everywhere from trailing early in the first to take a 13 point lead by the end of the first quarter. It was a cruise from there, with Turkey never letting its foot off the gas, to win the game by 27 points, 95-68 to advance to the semi finals to play Serbia. This is Turkey’s third time in the basketball World Cup, and this will be its first time playing in the medal games, and what better way to have a first other than playing in front of your own crowd. Ersan Ilyasova had 19 points for the Turks while Bostjan Nachbar had 16 for the Slovenians.


The second day of the Round of 16 wasn’t  as exciting as the first, with both games being one sided  from start to end.

The day started off with Slovenia playing Australia, and once again, the European basketball showed its dominanace over the rest (well, not the North American just yet) andas the Slovenians bombed away for 16 3-pointers out of 33 tries and created a huge deficit in the first half that the Australians could never recover from, after an all around performance from the Slovenian team, led by Jaka Lakovic (19 points), Primoz Brezec (12 points) and Goran Dragic (10 points, 8 assists). Patrick Mills had 13 points for Australia.

In the late night game, the hosts Turkey welcomed the French team and overcame an all around game delivered by Boris Diaw (21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and set up a clash with earlier winners Slovenia by beating France 95-77. Dominating the second and third quarters, Turkey left no hope for France to come back, despite the French trying to come back into the game by winning the 4th quarter. Hedo Turkoglu was Turkey’s star with 20 points, helped by Sunan Guler’s 17 points.


4 days on the competition have past, and teams are starting to brighten up while other teams performances are being 180 degrees different from other games. After having a terrfic opener vs Canada, the Cedar Trees suddenly aren’t the same team, as New Zealand was another team to having a shooting perfection night against the Lebanese, handing them their biggest loss so far, diminishing Lebanese hopes of making the second round.

The game took a rough start for the Lebanese, as they were unable to get a shot off while the Tall Blacks came out firing three pointers from everywhere, not looking like the team that lost its first two games earlier in the competition. The Lebanese could never find their groove back in the game, especially with Jackson Vroman catching foul trouble (3 fouls in the first half) and eventually fouling out. Trailing 32 to 16 after the first quarter, the Cedar Trees play never improved, with players such as Matt Freije, who had two great games earlier against Canada and France, had finished with a miserable 4 points on 1 for 7 shooting.  At a point in the game, Elie Rustom commited a double dribble, a fault unacceptable in basketball and only commited by beginners. The game turned out so horrible for the Lebanese, losing 108-76, as it was just the complete opposite for New Zealand, who shot 57% from the floor, mainly due to their star Kirk Penney, who scored 26 points, including 6 3 pointers and Thomas Abercombie had 23 points as well, leading 4 other players in double figures for the Tall Blacks. Fadi El Khatib tried his best for Lebanon, scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, but didn’t have the help expected from both Freije and Vroman. Rony Fahed and Jean Abdel Nour had 12 points apiece. Lebanon’s hopes of qualifying depend on them winning one more game, while Canada must beat New Zealand to give the Lebanese one more win than the  former two countries mentioned.

Another disappointing performance came from the defending world champs Spain, who were leading by as much as 18 points through the third quarter. That 18 point lead wouldn’t last for long against the Lithuanians, who stormed back into the game behind Linas Kleiza’s 17 points and was helped by his teammates Martynas Pocius and Jonas Maciulis, who had 13 points apiece to win 76-73. After a great start for Marc Gasol (18 points and 8 rebounds), Lithuania double teamed him, yet his Spanish teammates were unable to take advantage of that, making things easer for Lithuanians to get back into the game. Spain might face Greece in the Round of 16.

Another important clash took place, this time in Group C between the undefeated teams hosts Turkey and Greece for the top spot (most probably). The hosts came up on top from the beginning, riding Ersan Ilyasova’s hot hand to take a lead that would never be relinquished. The Greeks tried bringing the deficit down, but they weren’t able to grasp a lead, giving them their first loss in the tournament 76-65. Ilyasova had a game-high 26  points for Turkey while Bourousis was the only Greek in double figures (15 points).

Other Results:

Russia 72 – 66 Ivory Coast

Puerto Rico 84 – 76 China

France 68 – 63 Canada


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