Australia outlast heroic effort from Arakji, Lebanon in front of packed crowd for second Asia Cup title
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - Australia withstand a furious late game rally by Lebanon to win their second straight Asia Cup, 75-73, in front of a loud crowd at Istora Senayan.
Australia quickly built their lead in the first half with outstanding defense, holding Lebanon to only 28 points in the first half, their lowest in Asia Cup 2022. However, Wael Arakji came up in the clutch once again to lead a mad run in the final minutes of the game to close the lead down to as close as it can get with one point. Ali Haidar had one last heave at the buzzer for a chance at the victory, but it sailed away to the rightside of the basket, allowing the Boomers to stand their ground on the way to another Asia Cup title.
Team veteran and lone returnee from the Asia Cup 2017 championship squad Mitch McCarron had one of his best games yet in the competition with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. The Boomers also got 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks from Thon Maker.
Arakji’s heroic attempt saw him score 15 points in the fourth quarter alone to end up with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Ali Haidar also provided the Cedars with his best game yet of this tournament with 23 points and 9 rebounds.
Australia’s winning streak in the Asia Cup now extends to 12 games as they win their second Asia Cup in as many appearances.
Despite the loss, this is Lebanon’s best finish in the FIBA Asia Cup since 2007 and the closest so far any team has come to beating Australia in the Asia Cup.
18-year-old Tyrese Proctor went to the free-throw line for two attempts with less than 10 seconds left on the clock and a two-point lead for the Boomers. The future star had no issue whatsoever knocking down the two free throws to give the Boomers the much-needed breathing room to hold on for the win.
Stats don't lie:
Lebanon did all they could, forcing Australia to commit 10 turnovers and even out-rebounding the Boomers 40-35. Australia also shot 8-21 from the free-throw line, but were efficient enough from the inside the arc at 58.6 percent to come away with the title.