Boomers warned of the Asian Cup final duel

Australia were warned to expect too much of a fight from underdog Lebanon in the men’s basketball final at the FIBA ​​Asia Cup on Sunday in Jakarta.

The Boomers clinched a place in the playoffs with a 85-76 victory in Saturday’s semi-final against old regional rivals, New Zealand.

Lebanon was nine points behind in the second quarter of the semi-final against Jordan, whose heart, Muhammad Hussein, was expelled from the match.

Cedars then scored 10 points in a row to hit the front, but found themselves trailing late in the game before clinching an 86-85 win.

Australia, the defending champion, won the last tournament in 2017, while Lebanon reached the final three times, losing each time.

Both teams have a 5-0 record in Jakarta, but at 54, Lebanon ranks a whopping 51 under Australia’s third in the world rankings.

Australia tops the Asian rankings, eight places behind Lebanon, but the Boomers are without all their current NBA players.

Thon Maker, the former big man in Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland in the NBA, was the most impressive player, averaging 17.8 points and nine rebounds.

His front-court teammates Sam Froling and Keanu Bender average 11.6 and 10.8 points, respectively, while 18-year-old goalkeeper Therese Proctor averages 10.6.

“We are not here just to be on the podium to take second or third place, no no!” said Gad Al-Hajj, Lebanon coach.

“Giving up is not an option. We will fight for the title.”

Speaking before watching the second semi-final, Boomers acting coach Mike Kelly admitted that he didn’t see much of the Cedars during the tournament.

“Lebanon, I only saw scraps, so I’m going back to the hotel after watching this game and getting ready,” Kelly said.

“But they are very talented and have some big victories.

Lebanon’s most consistent offensive threat is captain Wael Arakji, who has averaged 25.5 points per game and hasn’t gone below 20 in his four matches.

American-born strong forward Jonathan Arledge averages 15 points and 7.4 plates per game.


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