LEBANON will appeal its suspension and hopes to still take part in the Fiba Asia Championships next month that will stake three slots to the World Championship in Spain.
Suspended indefinitely by the world governing cage body and stripped of all its wins in the Jones Cup over the weekend, the Lebanese national team, starring the indefatigable Fadi El-Khatib, will still fly to the Philippines straight from Taiwan.
In a related development, Iraq, citing lack of time to prepare for the Aug. 1 to 11 event as replacement for the banned Lebanese squad, has begged off from participating. Fiba-Asia has tapped the United Arab Emirates to take Iraq’s place.
UAE will thus join Japan, Qatar and Hong Kong in Group B in the qualifiers. Group A is composed of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Chinese-Taipei. The top three from both groups will form another bracket in the second round of the preliminaries.
Lebanon was suspended last week because of internal squabbling within its national cage federation that saw two club teams from its local pro league Mouttahed and Amchit suing the Lebanese cage body.
Hagop Khajirian, the Fiba Asia secretary general, who is from Lebanon, said that Patrick Baumann, the Fiba sec-gen, and the cage body based in Switzerland will decide on Lebanon’s appeal tomorrow at the latest.
Lebanon is one of the more formidable teams in the 16-nation event, with El-Khatib to draw support from a new naturalized player in Andre Emmet, who takes over the role that Jackson Vroman used to play.
In Taipei, the organizers of the Jones Cup also threw the book at the Lebanese, who were stripped of all their victories.
Iran regained the title with a seven-game sweep.
Chinese-Taipei, starring a naturalized center in Quincy Davis, finished second after plastering South Korea, 73-60, on Sunday.
Davis scored 26 points and had 17 rebounds with Tien Lei, the veteran Taiwanese superstar, shooting 21.