Lebanon qualified for the 2023 FIBA World Cup after handing India its sixth successive defeat with a 95-63 thrashing in an Asian Qualifiers match at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Monday.
Jonathan Arledge and Wael Arakji led the way with 21 and 15 points respectively, but it was a wholesome performance by Lebanon, with all 10 players getting on the scoresheet. The 2023 World Cup will be the nation’s fourth-ever and first since 2010.
“For players, there are two dreams – to be in the World Cup and the Olympics,” said coach Jad El Hajj, after the match. “We are now in the World Cup. This is our new generation and it will be their first time. So, we are very happy.”
India matched Lebanon in the first few exchanges, going up 11-10. But after that, it was pretty much one-way traffic, with Lebanon leading by 10 points after the first quarter, 20 after the second and 29 after the third.
The visiting side’s swift passing, marauding drives into the paint and ability to shoot three-pointers at will stood out. The Lebanese’s defence was also top-notch, rarely allowing the Indians to penetrate. Only small-forward Pranav Prince drove at his opponents with gusto and finished the match with 19 points.
Captain Muin Bek Hafeez disappointed, but for a couple of three-pointers towards the end. The Indians’ game was also riddled with fouls. There was a moment late in the third quarter when coach Veselin Matic furiously barked at his players, “You cannot play like this.” But by then, the result was dead and buried.