“I don’t have words to express my feelings,” beamed Lebanon spearhead Fadi El Khatib moments after receiving the trophy from President Mr. Michel Suleiman on Sunday.
“It is the proudest moment of my basketball career” El Khatib told in an exclusive chat with this correspondent.
To win a final game of a FIBA Asia event in front of the home crowd is the greatest moment for any National Team. And to win it in the presence of our president makes it even more special,” El Khatib said.
“The boys were aware that we had not won any FIBA Asia National team title so far. And they were emotional and charged up to achieve this victory,” he added talking about the way Lebanon charged ahead early.
“This was an excellent event to test myself for the big battles ahead,” El Khatib said on his personal fitness, and form, ahead of Lebanon’s participation in the 2010 FIBA World Championship at Turkey starting on Aug 28.
“We played extremely well,” said Lebanon coach Tab Baldwin.
“Like I told you last night, we had to two targets in mind for the game,” he said.
“To play well was as important as to win the game. I am pleased with the way we played. And I am thrilled we won,” he added.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t as easy as it looked. We had to press hard right from the word go,” Baldwin said.
“Japan live and die by fast breaks. I was proud of the way we stopped them,” he added.
“I think we were better organized in two ways,” said Lebanon point guard Rony Fahed.
“For one, we were better organized than them (Japan). And more importantly, we were more organized than all our previous games,” the Al Riyadi player said.
“That was the main reason for the big margin in the win,” he added.
Fahed’s teammate in the club as well as here Ali Mahmoud said: “I can’t control my feelings.”
“I feel like I’m on top of the world.”
LIB/JPN – Lebanon lead from start to finish for their maiden Men’s title
Inspired by the presence of their president, Mr. Michel Suleiman, Lebanon left nothing to chance, and doubt, from the word go and scored a 97-59 win over Japan in the Championship game on Sunday.
Lebanon thus won their first ever title in FIBA Asia events for Men’s National Teams. A Lebanese club, however, had won the gold medal in a FIBA Asia event three times earlier when Al-Hikmeh Sagesse had won the FIBA Asia Champions Cup for club teams in 1999, 2000 and 2004.
Fadi El Khatib, who obviously got the loudest cheers from the capacity crowd, went impeccable in field attempts converting both his attempts in three-pointers and as many from the close range, scoring 10 points at the end of which Lebanon led by a whopping 33-12 margin.
Rony Fahed (red jersey in picture above) fired two of his seven three-pointers for the game in the first quarter to add perimeter power to El Khatib’s inside play.
The cheers, the lead and the hosts grip on the proceedings only grew as the game progressed.
Fahed went on to lead the scoring for the game with 23 points.
El Khatib had 21 points, in an incredible 62% record in field attempts. The Champville guard, playing his first international tournament after a return from injury, also collected six rebounds, and effected a game-high five assists.
Jackson Vroman was his usual sturdy self, and in a 75% shooting record, returned a 16-point haul.
“It was a great win,” Fahed said.
“We haven’t won any FIBA Asia event before, as the National Team. And we didn’t want to let go of the opportunity in front of our home crowd,” El Khatib said.
Takumi Ishikazi had a 14-point team-high for Japan.
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