Lebanese Basketball Team Prepares for a Tough World Cup Run After a 13-Year Hiatus

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2023-08-24 | 10:28
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Lebanese Basketball Team Prepares for a Tough World Cup Run After a 13-Year Hiatus
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Lebanese Basketball Team Prepares for a Tough World Cup Run After a 13-Year Hiatus

The Lebanese national basketball team arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, this Thursday, gearing up for their latest appearance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which kicks off this Friday. The tournament will take place across Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines from August 25 to September 10.

This marks Lebanon's fourth appearance in the tournament, following participations in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and comes after a 13-year absence from the global stage. The team is hopeful of putting up a strong performance, buoyed by their impressive run in the last Asian Cup, where they reached the finals.

The team, led by national coach Jad Al-Hajj, has been busy preparing for the tournament, participating in friendly matches in Turkey and hosting games in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Lebanon's Basketball Team Ready to Rise to the World Stage: A Look at Their Pre-Tournament FIBA Press Conference

Ahead of their debut in the FIBA World Cup, Lebanon's national basketball team shared their thoughts on the competition and what it means for their country in a pre-tournament press conference. Present were player Wael Arakji and head coach Jad al-Hajj, who spoke candidly about the journey ahead.

"We're Here to Fight"

When asked about how he felt prior to the start of the tournament, Wael Arakji responded: "Honestly, I'm really happy I'm back in Jakarta... Very excited to kick off the tournament tomorrow. We know it's not gonna be an easy game. We have a very tough group, but we're here to fight and to show the world what we're made of."

This "fighting spirit" was echoed by Coach Jad al-Hajj: "It's our first experience in the World Cup. So all we can say is we're gonna give our best. We're going to fight till the end, we have nothing to lose. We're representing Lebanon."

Underdogs with Nothing to Lose

Facing powerhouse teams like France and Canada, Lebanon is entering the tournament as underdogs, a term both the player and coach embraced.

Arakji said, "Honestly, we're not putting any expectations... People are expecting them to win; no one is expecting us to win, so everyone is expecting us to lose. We're gonna go hard. We're gonna go out there, fight till the end, and we're not scared of anyone."

The Pressure and the Hope
Both the coach and the player acknowledged the importance of basketball in Lebanon, especially during these tough times. "We know that basketball now is the sport number one in Lebanon. Everyone's waiting for us," said Coach al-Hajj. Arakji added, "Lebanon is not in its greatest situation. So whatever positive we bring to our people, they will be happy. This is what we're aiming for."

Facing Europe's Best

Arakji acknowledged the level of competition, especially against top European teams. "You're playing against the top five-six countries in Europe... most of them are not if they're not NBA players, they're EuroLeague players."

Moving Forward

Despite the uphill battle, the team seems more than ready to represent Lebanon on the world stage. As Arakji succinctly put it, "It's an opportunity that every player coming from a small country looks for."

Lebanon finds itself in a challenging group, often referred to as the 'Group of Death,' alongside France, Canada, and Latvia. Despite the strength of the competition, the Lebanese squad is optimistic, especially since Al-Hajj's roster is at full strength. It's worth noting that Lebanon has previously beaten France in 2006 and Canada in 2010.

The team will begin their tournament journey on Friday with a game against a well-organized Latvian team. They will then face a star-studded Canadian team, featuring NBA talent, on Sunday, August 27, and will conclude the first round against tournament favorites, France, on Tuesday, August 29.

All games will be broadcast live on LB2.

It's clear that for Lebanon's basketball team, the FIBA World Cup is about more than just a game. It's an opportunity to show the world their mettle, uplift the spirits of a nation going through difficult times, and write a new chapter in the history of Lebanese sports. With this attitude, they're already winners in the eyes of many.
 
 
 

News Bulletin Reports

Lebanon

Basketball

World Cup

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