Lebanon’s historic run falls short as they lose a tight battle against the Boomers


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The Cedars met the Jordanian Falcons in the semi final, but, unlike their last meeting, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Lebanon.

The Jordanian team hit the ground running finishing the first quarter up by 4 thanks to their efficient shooting from deep.

In the second quarter Jordan continued pushing and increased their lead to 11 in the first 3 minutes of the quarter. 

Jordan’s players’ first mistake in the game proved costly as their backup center who was filling in for a hurt Ahmad Dwairi committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Lebanese guard Sergio El Darwich which resulted in him getting ejected from the game.

This mistake gave the Cedars the momentum they needed to go on a scoring run and finish the second quarter up by 5 after trailing by as much as 11.

The third quarter belonged to Freddy Ibrahim who scored 13 of his 17 points as he gave his team the lead to end the third up by 2 64-62.

Fourth quarter was as tight as it gets, down to the wire, with both teams tying the score a total of 5 times in the fourth quarter alone. And as we’ve seen in China’s game, clutch time is Arakji time, and he delivered. After Zaid Abbas split his free throws to give Jordan a 1 point lead in the final 22 seconds of the match, Wael turned the heat up and scored a dazzling floater over the Jordanian defenders to give Lebanon a 1 point lead and eventually the win.

Missing free throws proved fatal for the Jordanian dream to qualify to the final after missing 15 of their 28 free throws.

As for Lebanon, the hero again is captain Wael Arakji who stepped up again and made his case clear for the tournament MVP award.

Jordan will go on to lose against New Zealand for third position. And they managed to give New Zealand a run for their money dispite missing 2 key players in Dar Tucker and Fenerbahçe center Ahmad Dwairi.

The final is set, The Cedars face The Boomers, so Arakji faces Thon Maker.

The Australian team started off really strong and managed to take control of the game right after the whistle. Boomers built a lead of 16 points thanks to their orchestrated offense and defense they managed to counter everything Coach Jad threw at them. But the big margin couldn’t break the Lebanese spirit as they kept fighting and made it a contest.

The Lebanese team went on a 9-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead down to only 2 points. And as we’ve already established clutch time is Arakji time and he put on a show in that run scoring 4 of the 9 points and assisting in 3 of them, but he wasn’t done yet as the Boomers score 2 free throws after an intentional foul in the last 9 seconds to push the lead up to 4, 74-70. Wael didn’t give up, quickly taking the pass from Elie Chamoun to drain a long three pointer to cut the lead down to 1. Lebanon intentionally fouls Rhys Anthony Vague who scores the first and misses the second, and with only 4 seconds left on the clock Ali Haidar rebounds the ball dribbles past his own three point line and throws a prayer which goes wide and falls short like every Lebanese fan’s dream of the title.

As expected, Lebanon’s Wael Arakji deservedly won the Tissot MVP award and the title of best player in Asia. 

Up next for the Cedars, next window of the Asian qualifiers opens on the 25th of August against a retaliating Gillas team who called up NBA reigning sixth man of the year Jordan Clarkson to join their national team. Lebanon will be missing youngster Youssef Khayyat who’ll be joining Michigan, so other guards will have their hands full with NBA star JC.

On the 29th of August Lebanon will meet India again a game which Lebanon will hope to win at home.

Lebanon has the chance to qualify in this window if the team manages to win both games if not Lebanon will look to win an away game against the Philippines or India or even try and beat New Zealand again and this time at home in front of the Lebanese fans. 

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