The 2012 FIBA-Asia Champions Cup is NOT YET done

I don’t want to demean the Lebanese capacity to host a FIBA-Asia tournament, but, objectively speaking, things just don’t look very promising.

The Finals of the 2012 FIBA-Asia Champions Cup was supposed to be held this past Monday in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, but a sudden spike in armed conflict in and around the area, as reported by several media outfits, prompted FIBA-Asia Secretary-General Hagop Khajirian to postpone the Finals to a yet unspecified date and place (rumors suggest neutral Doha in Qatar or Dubai in the UAE as possible locations).

This is obviously unfortunate, especially when we consider how the Champions Cup was ALREADY POSTPONED. It was originally supposed to be held a few months earlier, but doubts swirled about Lebanon’s capability to host. This caused the dates of the tourney to be moved to late October. One might also surmise that the volatile situation in the Lebanon-Syria-Jordan corridor may have dissuaded some other teams from joining. Historically, the Champions Cup usually has about 8-10 teams, but only 5 teams joined this year. Only Al-Riyadi from Lebanon and Mahram from Iran were club teams from conventional Asian powerhouses. The other teams (Duhok, ER Falcons, and Belent Asghabat) are from nations that have relatively been, historically, minnows in continental hoops.

Another thing made this particular edition quite strange, is that only three of the six FIBA-Asia subregions were represented. Duhok, Al-Riyadi, and Mahram are all from West Asia. ER Falcons is from East Asia’s Mongolia, while Belent is from Central Asia’s Turkmenistan. The GCC was supposed to be represented by Qatar’s Al-Rayyan and UAE’s Al-Shabab, while SEABA was set to send the Indonesia Warriors and the San Miguel Beermen. South Asia had no clear representative. This is strange because one of the big factors for moving the tournament from June to October was to ensure that qualifying tournaments would have enough time to finish and the qualified teams would have enough time to prepare. Apparently, things fell through for most of the teams and a record-low 5 squads joined this once-prestigious annual event.

I actually concur with Mahram heah coach Mostafa Hashemi in calling out Khajirian. I believe that his decision-making has had a direct effect on so many of the issues and controversies currently hounding FIBA-Asia.

I’m biased, of course, and still very bitter from the fact that FIBA-Asia chose Beirut to host the 2013 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championships instead of Manila. With this recent development and the seemingly continuing decline in the safety situation in that area of Asia, I hope the FIBA-Asia big wigs will reconsider their decision and award the hosting rights to Manila.

Now, while Al-Riyadi and Mahram take an indefinite break, the 3rd-5th places in the 2012 FIBA-Asia Champions Cup have been cemented.

The Duhok club team finally gave Iraq its first FIBA-Asia medal. They beat Belent Asghabat in the bronze medal game, 73-58. 6’1 shooter Jenero Gorgiss led the way for the Iraqis, hitting 6 triples on his way to 26 points, while compatriot and fellow junior NT star Ali Amer Al-Juboori finished with 16 markers. Ali Hatem Hameed, meanwhile, took care of the interior with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Belent’s challenge was spearheaded by its two Uzbek imports, Samender Juginisov and Alexander Kozlov. Juginisov and Kozlov, both leading players of the Uzbekistan NT, paired up for 32 points and 17 rebounds, while Turkmenistan native Toyli Bayriyev netted 17 points to go along with 8 ribbies and 3 steals.

The ER Falcons of Mongolia finished 5th with an 0-4 slate. Their best player of the tournament was Nemekhbayar Battulga, who normed 15.0ppg, 1.8rpg, and 1.8apg.

Ali Al-Juboori is a promising young talent
from Iraq.

Ali Hatem Hameed grabs a rebound against
the Turkmen side.

Igor Mazurov goes up strong against the Iraqis.

Mehdi Kamrani returned to action and played
well for Mahram of Iran.

Namekhbayar Battulga goes up strong against
the Turkmen defense.

Omar El-Turk lets loose a jumper.

Al-Riyadi import Ratko Varda goes
up for a baby hook.

Uzbek national Samender Juginisov
gets an inside stab.

Temujin Ariunbold tries to slam one home.

Game Results can be found here.
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