FIBA World Championship 2006 - Unofficial Blog

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lebanon show their heart with victory over Venezuela

It is really emotional to see a nation like Lebanon put all their heart in order to achieve something important, despite the war they are suffering. Indeed, Joseph Vogel and Fadi El Khatib scored key baskets in the final minutes Saturday to help Lebanon beat 82-72 over Venezuela at the basketball world championships in Japan.

As we sai, Vogel gave Lebanon a 76-67 lead with a two-handed slam dunk with just over a minute remaining.

Khatib then score to put the game 78-72 with a pair of free throws and hit two more at the buzzer to give Lebanon a 10-point margin.

We must remember that Lebanon lost all five encounters and finished in last place at the 2002 world championships.

It's also good to say that Venezuela led 57-56 after the third quarter. Any chance they had for a comeback was spoiled when Oscar Torres' errant pass went out of bounds with Lebanon leading 77-72.

Khatib is one of the Middle East's best players. Two years ago, he unsuccessfully tried to get a release from his club team so he could play with the Los Angeles Clippers.

According to the experts, Lebanon, 26th in the FIBA rankings, is missing center Paul Khoury, who is stranded in Idaho with visa problems. Khoury returned to the United States after fighting between Israel and Hizbullah broke out in Lebanon.

In the schedule we can read that Lebanon's next game is against Argentina while Venezuela faces Nigeria on Sunday. Good luck for them.

Japan 2006 has begun: USA beat Puerto Rico and Serbia and Montenegro lost to Nigeria

It was a very difficult game but they managed to win. With the help of Carmelo Anthony, who scored 21 points in Sapporo on Saturday, the United States' basketball team had a good start at the 2006 World Men's Basketball Championship against Puerto Rico.

In the other hand, the defending champion Serbia and Montenegro had a bad day, upset by African bronze medallist Nigeria.

As we said, the United States dominated the match with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade contributing 15 and 13 points respectively in their Group D opening win. In fact, the United States took a sweet revenge on their upset 92-73 defeat to Puerto Rico at the Athens Olympics two years ago.

"I'm satisfied, it's a game of revenge," said Elton Brand, who had six points. "It really doesn't matter we won by how many points. A win is a win."

Leading 57-51 into the second half, the Team USA opened the third quarter with a 14-5 run for a comfortable 71-56 lead. In the rest of the match, the Puerto Rican players could never cut their deficit under eight points.

The American side showed their determination to play as a team and enjoyed a surprising balanced offense with Kirk Hinrich, Christopher Paul and Dwight Howard also scoring in double digits.

In another game of the competition, NBA All-star center Yao Ming scored a game-high 30 points, but his efforts turned out to be in vain as China was beat by Italy 84-69.

Trailing 39-35 after the first half, China took the lead at 48-47 as the Houston Rockets' player had 11 points in a 13-11 run opening the third quarter. But the Italians made six three-pointers in the rest of the period for a 67-56 advantage before enlarging the gap to 80-64 amid the fourth.

"I have never seen a squad shoot the ball so well," Yao Ming expressed. "If you just spare them a half-arm distance, they can hit it."

In fact, Italy, who made eight three-pointers in the second half, went 13-for-25 from beyond the arc.

It's important to say that Gianluca Basile shot 9-for-14 from the field to lead Italy with 27 points with Matteo Soragna and Luca Garri adding 14 and 10 respectively.

And in the other Group D match, Slovenia sailed past Senegal 96-79.

And Nigeria, who was making its second appearance at the quadrennial championship, led most of the way for a 82-75 win over five-time world champion Serbia and Montenegro in the Group A match in Sendai.

We must know that in other Group A actions, Argentina outperformed France 80-70 and Lebanon beat Venezuela 82-72.

Elsewhere, European powerhouses Greece, Germany and Spain also claimed convincing victories in the opening round of the preliminaries.

We must keep in mind that twenty four nations are competing in four groups with top four finishers from each group to reach the elimination round. The race for the world title has begun.

  Serbia & Montenegro
  New Zealand
  Puerto Rico