UAE replaces suspended Lebanon in FIBA Asia tiff
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 15, 2013 - 12:43pm

MANILA, Philippines – FIBA Asia has tapped United Arab Emirates to take over from Iraq as Lebanon’s replacement in the coming 27th FIBA Asia Championship even as the Lebanese basketball federation appealed its indefinite suspension by the FIBA Central Board.

United Arab Emirates, fourth placer behind Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the last Gulf Basketball Association championship, got the FIBA Asia Championship invitation after Iraq, from West Asia like Lebanon, declined due to lack of preparation.

UAE, qualifier in eight of the last 10 Asian meets, took the spot of Lebanon in Group B, joining Qatar, Japan and Hong Kong. The top three in the group advance to the second round, playing the top three in Group A composed of the Philippines, Jordan, Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia.

However, Lebanon is still hoping that its suspension will be lifted in time to compete in the FIBA Asia Championship set Aug. 1-11 in Manila.

FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Khajirian, a Lebanese, said the Lausanne-based FIBA world would decide on Lebanon’s appeal Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

FIBA world secretary general Patrick Bauhmann on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Lebanon from the FIBA rolls due to unresolved issues within the Lebanese cage body.

Internal squabbling in the Lebanese basketball federation has reached the court with club teams Amchit and Mouttahed filing a legal case against the governing body.

The suspension stripped Lebanon of a chance to vie for a fourth World Cup stint in the coming Asian championship. For the same reason, the Chinese Taipei federation cancelled the results of the Lebanon team’s games in the just concluded Jones Cup.

Iran reclaimed the Jones Cup crown it lost to Gilas Pilipinas last year via a seven-game sweep while the host team beat South Korea, 73-60, on the final day Sunday to grab second place.

Quincy Davis logged 26 points and 17 rebounds in a solid all-around performance with local hotshot Tien Lei adding 21 markers as the Taiwanese made a podium finish in the annual tourney for the first time since a similar second-place finish in 2006.

Jordan finished sixth with a 2-5 win-loss record while Japan came in seventh with a 1-6 slate.

In the other Jones Cup final-day matches, the US ripped Jordan, 81-71, while Japan topped Taipei B, 96-81. Apparently, the Iran-Lebanon match was no longer played.

Still, the Lebanese remain optimistic their FIBA suspension would be lifted.

“We will reconsider the decision of FIBA Monday whether to lift the ban,” said Khajirian as quoted by the Lebanon Daily Star.

The same paper said “the Lebanese basketball federation has made the necessary contacts with both the international and Asian federations to inform them about the judicial ruling, in order to allow the national team to take part in the continental championship.”

Apparently, Lebanon’s cage officials made new moves to solve their crisis.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese team is reportedly pushing through with its plan to fly straight to Manila from Taipei. Coach Ghassan Sarkis and his troops undergo a 14-day camp in Manila.

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