All Roads Lead to Manila: Lebanon and Jordan Qualify, Book Tickets to 27th FIBA Asia Men’s Championships!

The 2013 West Asia Basketball Association (WABA) Men’s Championships, which served as the qualifying tournament for the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships in Manila, just ended and the top three teams after the three-day competition were Iran (Champions), Lebanon, and Jordan.

This tournament had two slots to the Manila tourney at stake, but because Iran already gained entry by winning last year’s FIBA Asia Cup, Lebanon and Jordan were awarded the two other WABA slots to the biennial meet.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami accepts the trophy as
Iran bags the 2013 WABA crown.

In the final day of hoop wars, Iran defeated Lebanon in overtime thanks to the superb performance of ever-improving big man Asghar Kardoust. Kardoust, who usually plays behind Toronto Raptors center Hamed Haddadi, continues to show the vast improvement first seen during Iran’s conquest of the FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo last year. Kardoust scored 16 points against Jordan on Day 1 and poured in 22 against the Lebanese on Day 3, including 10 in the extra session. On Day 2. Kardoust played sparingly against Iraq, scoring 4 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in under 15 minutes of action. Kardoust should be a big problem for any team Iran will face in Manila this coming August.

Asghar Kardoust continues to improve
for Team Iran.

Aren Davoudi and Oshin Sahakian lead Iran's victory march
around the arena after bagging the title.

Lebanon, despite the loss, also advanced to the 2013 FIBA Asia meet by virtue of beating Iraq and Jordan in Days 1 & 2. As usual, living legend Fadi El-Khatib reigned supreme for Lebanon with 20 points against Iraq, and then he followed it up with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists against Jordan a day after. That triumph over Jordan assured Lebanon of the second WABA slot in Manila. It is worth noting that this Lebanese quintet is backstopped by naturalized player Rayshawn Terry, who is incidentally already the third naturalized American to play for the Lebanese NT since 2011. Sam Hoskin played for the Cedars in Wuhan two years ago, while Garnett Thompson donned the Lebanese jersey in the FIBA Asia Cup last year. Some other names are expected to be named to Lebanon’s final roster for Manila, most notably wingmen Elie Estephane and Ahmad Ibrahim along with Lebanese-Australian center Julian Khazzouh.

Fadi El-Khatib continues to be the best
Lebanese cager around.

Jordan, the silver medalists in the previous FIBA Asia Men’s Championships, booked the last WABA ticket to Manila after beating Iraq, 86-80. The Jordanians struggled in the entire tournament due to their missing the services of stalwarts Sam Daghlas and Zaid Abbas, both of whom chose to concentrate on their tenures with their respective clubs in the Chinese Basketball Association. It is also uncertain whether both Daghlas and Abbas will be with Al Nashama in Manila this August, since both guys already signified their intent to retire from international hoops. It is worth remembering, though, that Lebanon’s Fadi El-Khatib also “retired” in 2011 before returning to action last year, and Jordan’s very own Ayman Idais also already issued his retirement in 2011 before, just like Fadi, returning to national team duty. One guy to look out for in Jordan’s roster is Mohammad Shaher Hussein, a 23-year old, 6’10” center who is tagged as the future bulwark of Jordanian hoops. He normed 14.0ppg in this tourney, including scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against Lebanon on Day 2.

Mohammad Shaher Hussein is an
up-and-coming center for Jordan.

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