22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
5 Amir Saoud (LBN)
to read

Jad El Hajj proud of Lebanon's big hearts

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Lebanon have been one of the best performing teams in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers, and one big reason is how hard they play.

Head coach Jad El Hajj is not surprised, though. He knows what drives his players' efforts.

"The players have big hearts."
- Coach Jad El Hajj

"To my players, respect," El Hajj said. "They play hard for 40 minutes."

The Cedars showed this best in their comeback win over neighboring rivals Jordan in Window 3. After falling behind by 8 points in the first quarter, Lebanon used a searing second period blast to permanently turn the tables on the Falcons.


Lebanon in Window 3 were markedly different from the team that went 1-1 in Window 2. Four key players saw action in Window 3 - Elie Chamoun, Karim Ezzedine, Ali Mezher, and Jonathan Arledge - and they all made big splashes for the Cedars to close out the first round, helping Lebanon to a 5-win, 1-loss record in Group C.

Looking ahead, Lebanon are now in Group E, and they will play New Zealand, the Philippines, and India. If the Cedars finish among the top 3 teams in the group, they will qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. The last time Lebanon played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup was in Turkey 2010.

Coach El Hajj knows that despite carrying a good record to the second round, the missions still has not been accomplished for his squad. He is squarely aware of how hard it will be to clinch a spot at next year's FIBA Basketball World Cup.

"It's a completely different team playing from the last window," explained El Hajj. "I hope we can continue like this. We have now more challenges, and we have to keep the focus."

Lebanon open their second round campaign by hosting the Philippines on August 25 before they play India on the road on August 29.