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An emotional farewell as El Khatib ends international career
BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Adored by fans and loved by teammates, Fadi El Khatib has been a legend in the making for Lebanese basketball for many years.
When he ran onto the court for the first time at the FIBA Asia Championship in 2001, it marked the start of amazing career for a player whose performances have earned him the nickname the Lebanese Tiger.
At 38, El Khatib has decided to call it quits with the national team. The dream had been to sign off as a champion in his homeland at the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 but a Quarter-Final defeat to rivals Iran, a powerhouse on the continent since 2007, put paid to that.
The disappointment was great for El Khatib and everyone else in the land of the Cedars, coming up short of the aim of at bare minimum a podium finish.
What has not happened, however, is a diminishing of the affection for the iconic El Khatib, a warrior if ever there was on in international basketball.
"It was a privilege playing with Fadi El Khatib," Bassel Bawji said. "He is a legend who gave a lot for Lebanese basketball at the national and international level. It's sad he will retire from the national team but his legacy will live for decades to come."
Several players have given heartfelt messages to El Khatib.
"Being my idol, you were always there when I needed you and taught me how to keep shining," Nadim Souaid said. "Thank you."
"The face of the Lebanese national team, the country thanks you for your unforgettable memories!" said Charles Tabet.
"How lucky I am to be here with you on this special day," Ali Mezher said. "Enjoy it, captain."
El Khatib is going to treasure his experience with the national team.