BEIRUT - August 8, 2017 is a historical day for Lebanon as the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup starts at 1:30 PM Beirut time.
For the first time ever, Lebanon will be hosting the most anticipated sports event in the region at the Nouhad Nawfal Gymnasium from August 8 till August 20, 2017, marking the 29th continental basketball championship in Asia.
The importance of this tournament can be divided into two components:
Scope of basketball
The tournament will be defining the composition of combined FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Economy and tourism
16 teams are participating in this large-scale event, including Lebanon, all of them staying in fine hotels based in Sin El Fil, Metropolitan and Hilton. Transportation will be considered to connect the teams with the stadium.
As a matter of calculation, 15 foreign teams accompanied by 20 staffers between players, coaches, and some official represents, would make a total of around 300 added foreigners that will be touring the bits of Lebanon during their free time, passing by small shops, malls, and some touristic destinations.
The official draw for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 was held on May 30, 2017, at le Royal Hotel Dbayeh, and four groups were created:
Group A: Iran, Jordan, Syria, and India
Group B: Iraq, China, Philippines and Qatar
Group C: Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Korea and New Zealand
Group D: Japan, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Australia
26 referees were selected from participating countries to lead the games. The mascot of the tournament is “Ox the Fox”, symbolizing the three essential qualities for a basketball player: clever, fast, and alert.
Draw results in for FIBA Asia Cup 2017, courtesy of fiba.com
Getting introduced to participating teams
AUSTRALIA (AUT): the Aussies hold the most genuine and sturdiest basketball team.
CHINA (CHN): the most leading team in this tournament's history. China's first participation was in 1975, have won the top prize 16 times ever since. The Chinese Basketball Association has separated their relatively big national pool into two teams with outwardly equivalent depth.
CHINESE TAIPEI (TPE): anything is possible for the great performer team and their leader Quincy Davis.
HONG KONG (HKG): looking from within a small window to advance to the first group stage, even when their star Duncan Reid was shining with a double-double.
INDIA (IND): India was on the right track until their star guard Vishesh Bhirguvanshi went down with a knee injury. The Indians hope to make it through the Quarter-Finals.
IRAN (IRN): team Melli is always a threat to others. In 2007, Melli won their first crown, won it three times since.
IRAQ (IRQ): drawn in a very tough group, yet their passion for the game might push the first group stage.
JAPAN (JPN): the Japanese team won the tournament twice, with an unsatisfactory 9th place finish in 2013.
JORDAN (JOR): in 2009, Jordan finished in the third position. In 2011, the team made it to the finals.
KAZAKHSTAN (KAZ): it thought to be the team of the future, but was a first and last 4th finish in 2007.
KOREA (PRK): Korea had one of its worst finishes in 2015, but are today well prepared for this tournament aiming at taking home a second title.
LEBANON (LBN): Lebanon is putting tremendous effort to earn the gold cup for the first time. The team is made of solid and passionate players alongside a devoted fan base.
NEW ZEALAND (NZL): everyone is expecting the Kiwis and their famous dance. They own high chances to reach an advanced rank.
PHILIPPINES (PHL): back on the scene in 2011 with their Gilas Pilipinas program. The Philippines hold the second most achieved team in the history of this competition with 5 cups.
QATAR (QAT): the Qatari team finished among the top 5 teams since 2005, but recently trained promising young talents that can potentially earn a good ranking.
SYRIA (SYR): with Syria's legendary scorer Micheal Madanly, high chances to bounce back and reach the quarter finals.
Nouhad Nawfal Gymnasium - The FIBA Asia Cup 2017 Venue, courtesy of fiba.com
Lebanon dream can be realized
The Lebanese FIBA star Fadi El Khatib or 'Tiger' will be turning back the clock, expecting to score more than 25 points per game;
The Lebanese minister of defense, Jean Abdel Nour will back up the national team while keeping opponents' star low in outcomes;
Trusted Point Guard Wael Arakji will decode with the help of Ali Mezher;
Players Ali Haidar and Charles Tabet are expected to strengthen the center;
Remarkable names such as Nadim Souaid, Elie Rustom, Bassel Bawji, Joseph El Chartouny and the magician Norvel Pelle have proved to form a solid and vital base to the Lebanese national team, in addition to Amir Saoud who is estimated to start scoring his usual 3 points once he joins the game.
The #FibaAsiaCup2017 makes all it needs to mark the event of the year for Lebanon, Asia, and the world.