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Abercrombie hands Lebanon a crushing defeat in Zouk Mikael
ZOUK MIKAEL (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Tom Abercrombie did what he does best - he made a big shot in crunch time as New Zealand dealt Lebanon a painful defeat, 69-67, at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Zouk Mikael.
Just seconds after veteran player Jean Abd El Nour handed the home team a 67-66 lead with 23 ticks to go, New Zealand's Mika Vukona drove to the basket and kicked the ball out to find Abercrombie near the top of the key for the game-winning three-point dagger.
The loss put Lebanon's qualification in dire straits. They now need a win over long-time rivals Korea in their final Asian Qualifiers fixture coupled with a Jordan loss on the same date to New Zealand to officially punch their tickets to the World Cup. Otherwise, a loss to Korea coupled with a Jordanian triumph will send the Cedars crashing down to fourth place and potentially falling short of qualification.
Abercrombie was at the forefront of the Tall Blacks' attack in this game, hitting 8-of-15 from the field as he dropped 19 points along with a couple of rebounds, assists and steals. Rising star Finn Delany also impressed for coach Paul Henare with 15 points and 8 boards off the bench, while seasoned forward Mika Vukona added 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals to their cause.
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The #TallBlacks take this heart-stopper #FIBAWC qualifier down to the wire against Lebanese Basketball. A big thanks to Lebanon - amazing hosts and incredible fans. This is a country who LOVES the game! #Respect Also, thanks to Maori Television for the livestream coverage! Next up, Jordan in Amman on 24 February (livestream on www.MaoriTelevision.com 3:30am Monday 25 Feb NZT. And on Te Reo channel, delayed to 8pm Monday 25 Feb NZT) #TallBlacks #TuKaha #FIBAWC
On the other end, Ali Haidar's 16 points paced four Lebanese players in double-digit scoring. Wael Arakji's comeback game at the Asian Qualifiers saw him scoring 13 points, while Ater Majok and Ahmad Ibrahim each tossed in 10 points in the losing effort that was seen by 7,000 fans live at Nouhad Nawfal.
It was a crushing loss for Lebanon, especially in such a close game that saw 21 lead changes. In the end, Abercrombies shot and some breaks of the game prevented the Lebanese from notching what would have been their seventh win of the Asian Qualifiers.
Lebanon will play Korea on 24 February also at Zouk Mikael, while New Zealand travel to Amman to face Jordan at the Prince Hamza Arena.