12 - 19
June 2022
Maroun Dib (LBN), Georges Akiki (LBN), Rabih Francis (LBN), 72 Ray Abou Sleiman (LBN), 35 Anthony Nabaa (LBN), 34 Karl Chris Zamatta (LBN), 24 Jad Tabbara (LBN), 23 Bryan Saleh (LBN), 13 Giorgio Azzi (LBN), 11 Nikolai Choueiri (LBN), 10 Chris El Hachem (LBN), 6 Serouj Avedissian (LBN), 5 Jean Paul El Shamee (LBN), 1 Rayan Hachem (LBN), 00 Toni Awwad (LBN)
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Lebanon make history, New Zealand make it two in a row

DOHA (Qatar) - Karl Zamatta  shined as a star and Giorgio Azzi emerged as hero for Lebanon as they beat Korea, 72-64, to qualify for a FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup debut.

The two teams battled back and forth throughout the entire game, with neither team leading by as much 9 points. Both teams split time leading in this game, Korea staying ahead just under 15 minutes in the game while Lebanon led for nearly 22 minutes. The lead changed 14 times and in the end it was in the favor of the young Cedars.

With 7 minutes left in the game, Azzi banked in a three-pointer while falling away from the basket covered by defenders to overtake the lead. The game was tight and the tension was high, so no one knew that would be the last time that the lead would change hands. From there, Lebanon commanded the momentum and Azzi nailed a floater in the middle of the lane with a little over 30 seconds to go to put the nail in the coffin.

While Azzi provided the heroic moments it was Karlito Zamatta who starred in this game. The 2.02M (6’8”) center had the best game of any player in this tournament so far based on Efficiency Rating at 37. He led the game in scoring with 24 points and also grabbed 21 rebounds - most by any player in a single game in this event.

In the end, it came down to Lebanon being able to finish around the rim where their height gave them the advantage. Lebanon shot 44.4 percent from the field, while Korea shot only 35.4 percent.

This game was big man Ku MingYo’s turn to shine as he recorded a double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Kim Seungwoo tied Ku’s point total at 19 while also leading Korea with 3 three-pointers.

Lebanon have played in the U16 Asian Championship three times prior to the 2018 edition and while they’ve always been able to finish among the top 8 teams, have never made it to the Semi-Finals. This win puts them in the history book in that regard, where they will now face Australia for a shot at making the Final.

Moreover, advancing to the Semi-Finals of the U16 Asian Championship means a ticket to the U17 World Cup 2022 which will be played in Malaga, Spain from 2-10 July. This will be Lebanon’s first ever appearance in the flagship event, as they aim to keep making history from here on out.

Lebanon joins New Zealand in qualifying for the U17 World Cup, as the Junior Tall Blacks also secured their ticket by beating Iran, 72-66, in the game earlier. The score was tight throughout the entire four quarters where New Zealand never led by more than 8 points, but they led for just over 38 minutes.

Aside from the standard production from Nic Book (17 points, 8 rebounds) and Julius Halaifonnua (8 points, 9 rebounds), New Zealand got a boost from perimeter players Hunter Trego and Dante Mataketea as well. Both players combined for 32 points on 7 three-pointers with 8 assists and 6 steals in between.

Aside from qualifying for a second straight U17 World Cup appearance, New Zealand will also face Japan for a shot at making their first Final appearance as well.