Lebanon want to use their chance for “glory”
TEHRAN (2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship) - Lebanon still have a chance to capture a piece of glory according to head coach Joe Moujaes ahead of their encounter with Korea in the 3rd Place Game of the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship.
Lebanon have only collected one FIBA Asia U18 podium finish in their history - third place in 2006. And Moujaes would love to see his talented team get that done against Korea and at the same time secure a spot in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship.
"This is a dream again after 10 years, especially since basketball encountered a drop in its level after the FIBA ban," Moujaes said. "So, we are the hope of Lebanese viewers. A medal and a ticket to the U19 Worlds means a lot, I would say glory."
Lebanon's only appearance at the FIBA U19 World Championship came in 2007 - when they finished 14th of 16 teams.
Lebanon head coach Joe Moujaes talks to big man Mark Alkhoury.
Moujaes admitted his team struggled to live up to the expectations after the impressive 4-0 start to the tournament in Tehran.
"The great performance at the beginning of the championship gave us a bigger pressure in front of our fans and basketball stakeholders in Lebanon - that the team will have great hopes to qualify to the final," Moujaes said. "The players were stressed out and failed to play up their level. The (Semi-Finals) loss vs Japan came down at us like thunder."
Moujaes believes in his team and thinks it could prove the foundation of future Lebanon senior national teams.
"I believe the success of national basketball federations is measured by its youth programs, and I would say Lebanon has to continue in the same policy if they want to graduate new super stars," Moujaes said. "This team will have more than three superstars that will continue in senior level."
"This is a dream again after 10 years, especially since basketball encountered a drop in its level after the FIBA ban. So, we are the hope of Lebanese viewers. A medal and a ticket to the U19 Worlds means a lot, I would say glory." - Moujaes
Moujaes did not want to say which players would make the jump to the Lebanese senior national team, offering: "It's too early to judge since a lot of factors are on the table. But I would say most of them will make it if they continue working on themselves and chose playing time over better contracts."
Lebanon beat Korea 80-67 in Group B play - a fact that has no bearing on the 3rd Place Game, Moujaes said.
"It doesn't mean anything if we beat them or not. Whoever has stronger morale in the game and is ready to fight more will win the game," the coach said.
When asked what will be the keys to the game, Moujaes added: "Courage, hunger, and concentration will give an edge to the team who will qualify."