Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’


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.

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As the Round of 16 begins, so do the importance of games. Every game now is a do-or-die for every team, and the best is expected to be brought out from every team.

The first day of the knockout stage was as exciting and tempting as it could get, with Sebia and Croatia tipping it off in a classic rival match. It is the first time both teams play each other in a basketball competition, as the Balkan neighbours fought a war in the early 1990s, and it was one of the best played games so far in the World Cup. Croatia came out strong, leading by 8 points at the end of the first quarter despite the Serbians making 8 of their first 11 shots. Serbia managed to cut the lead to 2 by halftime, and traded the lead 11 times with their neighbours, and eventually came on top by 4 by the end of three quarters. The last quarter started all Serbia, and the Serbians had an 8 point lead, 65-57, with 3 minutes to go, then Croatian guard Marko Popovic attempted to pull a Michael Jordan, impressively bringing the Croatians back into the game, scoring 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and managed to tie the score at 72. Aleksander Rasic was fouled and made 1 free throw and missed the second, making it difficult for Popovic and Croatia to win. Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 16 points, and Rasic had 5 points in the last 21 seconds as well.

In another rematch of the last World Cup final, Spain and Greece played the main event for the night, in an attempt to make it as great as its predecessor earlier in the day. Spain have beaten Greece in several occasions, including recently  last year in the EuroBasket semis. Spain and Greece kept on exchanging leads at certain points of the game, until the Spanish, with the help of Juan Carlos Navarro, 22 points, and Rudy Fernandez, 14 points (12 in the second half), broke away in the 4th quarter, winning 80-72 to set up a clash with Serbia in the quarters. Dmitrios Dimantidis, who retired internationally after the game, had 16 points and crucial blocks and steals, and Nikolaos Zisis had 16 points as well.


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

 


In the first bye day for Groups C and D, teams from the first 2 groups played their third consecutive game in as many days, with USA and Argentina remaining perfect despite the former being pushed to the brink by oversized Brazil, while Angola was easy for the Argentinians. Serbia bounced back from that double overtime loss while Germany couldn’t continue its winning ways by falling to Australia. Iran found its first win, keeping Tunisia winless and Slovenia held off Croatia at the end for its second win.

The Americans started the game expecting a tough challenge from the Brazilian side, and as they expected, the Brazilians were firing on all cylinders and managed to stay on top for the first quarter making 12 of their first 16 shots with the help of NBA star Leandro Barbosa. The Americans never really got into the game until the third quarter, where they finished up by 2 points. The 4th quarter was easily the worst scoring quarter in this World Cup, with both teams being unable to exceed the 9 point limit and each commited several turnovers and made crucial defensive stops. In the end, the score was 70-68 USA’s way, and Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas got fouled with 3 seconds left. He didn’t make the first and missed the second on purpose, catching his own rebound and passed it to Barbosa, who missed the last shot, keeping the Americans perfect while ensuring that if their big man Anderson Varejao is back, Brazil will be tougher than ever on the American team. Kevin Durant had 27 points in 39 1/2 minutes for the U.S. with Chauncey Billups’ 15 points while Leandro Barbosa had 14 points for Brazil.

Serbia took note of what went wrong in their double overtime loss to Germany and came out strong on the Jordanians, handing them their third straight loss 112 – 69 with Dusko Savanovic and Marko Keselj having 21 points eachand Kosta Perovic’s 20 points while Jordanian Omar Daghles had 19 points as his team yet has to win a game.

Germany couldn’t form a winning streak as Australia manhandled them with a lack of focus displayed by the Germans, losing their game 78-43, with the Aussies dominating the game from start to end, never trailing after a German 2-0. Patrick Mills led the Australians with 16 points and 7 asssists, while  Robin Benzing had 11 points for Germany.

Other Results:

Angola 70 – 91 Argentina

Slovenia 91 – Croatia 84

Tunisia 58 – Iran 71


When the FIFA World Cup first started, I thought there was something wrong with my TV. There was this constant noise in the background that was really annoying.

Then I found out online that it was the vuvuzela, which through the flow of air produces a loud monotone sound.  At the beginning there were a lot of complaints about the instrument, especially from TV viewers since they were unable to enjoy the game without that disturbing noise ringing in their ears constantly, as the vuvuzela has its own effects on the human health with leading to hearing loss if they constantly hear it.

Eventually, people got used to it (with channels like ESPN and BBC trying to minimize the sound behind the commentary) but it became a symbol of South African football.

Symbol of the 2010 World Cup for football.

But not basketball.

Basketball fans will not have to worry about the constant noise in the back as FIBA has banned the use of vuvuzelas at this year’s edition of the World Cup in Turkey, citing health reasons as a the main issue, and will confiscate them if brought to the game.

“We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others” said Patrick Baumann, FIBA Secretary-General and member of the International Olympic Committee.

Last time you see these vuvuzelas in a basketball court 🙂

Baumann also believes that the vuvuzela is not “appropriate in a confined space such as a basketball arena” and that medical experts believe the “decibel level and frequency can be harmful to hearing.”

The ban will be implemented in all FIBA indoors tournaments.

Finally, a sport that cares about its fans 😉


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


Going to restaurants used to be fun. It was all about trying out new foods and enjoying the company of whoever you happened to be dining with.
Now, and especially with the massive tourist influx, the fundamentals of dining out includes a bunch of waiting: to be seated, for the waiter to take your order, for the food to arrive, and finally for the bill and the change.
First there was the World Cup frenzy. For those who are unaware, during that month, it was impossible to dine out without having to pay some sort of entrance plus combo fee at even the tiniest of restaurants. Add to that the already expensive prices and the above-mentioned waiting, and you’ve gotten yourself an experience for the ages.
But that’s nothing in comparison to the waiters declining to serve you, because apparently the entire premise is fully booked, when in reality, it’s just a sea of empty chairs. The pathetic excuse they present is normally along the lines of “Oh, but they’re expected in an hour, and we don’t want to rush your dining so you can enjoy it” which in my opinion, roughly translates to, “In one hour, you won’t even have the chance to look at your plate because we’re going to be procrastinating as much as possible before you get your order.”
Call me a cynic, but it has happened before, and on countless occasions.
And now that the tourists are here, we Lebanese are second-class citizens to our own countrymen.
Which is something I don’t understand.
Do they really think that the foreigners, who would rather save every cent of their money, tip more than the citizens? Or do they think that by paying them more attention then more positive things would be said about the place?
I beg to differ.
Consider this as a real-life situation. You go to a very popular restaurant chain and decide to order the chocolat mou. This is a fairly simple dish to prepare as all it requires is scooping out the ice cream into a glass and topping it off with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It could be done at home if the ingredients are available.
But no.
At this popular place, that very same order takes around 30 minutes to arrive. And when it does, all the waiter could say to excuse himself was that they were having a busy night and everyone was ordering deserts. The dish wasn’t even that good!
Restaurants are supposed to be a place where only utter courtesy comes into play. They are not supposed to be a place where people are scammed off thanks to low-quality food and horrible service. They are not supposed to be a place where costumers consider the waiters to be subordinates either.
They are supposed to be a place where people can come together to focus on the most important aspect: the food.
Plus, in a country where recreational facilities are oh-so very limited, taking our families out to eat on weekends has become some sort of ritual.
Well, if things keep going the way they are, that’s yet another ritual we’re going to have to kiss goodbye.
And if things keep getting worse, we may even have to kiss the tourists goodbye.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to have an immense respect for people in this profession and a complete understanding for how tiresome their jobs can be. But it is not up to them to decide who to and not to serve. And it is certainly not understandable when they chose to do so.
But then again, this is Lebanon, where anything goes, and where laws are just words thrown around to appear to sound fancy.
As long as the law is not clear-cut and protecting us, we are always going to fall victim to our own terrible actions and remain stuck in this utter state of chaos.