Doha, Qatar - Despite losing to China, Lebanon's victory over Japan on Wednesday secured the national team a spot in the Asian Basketball Championships semifinals.
Lebanon rebounded after their gut wrenching loss to China by dominating Japan 77-59 to advance. Japan will host the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
Lebanon next faces an undefeated Qatar.
Lebanon proved to be the toughest match yet for the favorites China. NBA superstar Yao Ming had limited effectiveness; however China had the additional firepower needed to come away with a 73-87 upset for Lebanon.
China was on cruise control prior to the match, but Lebanon proved to be a fierce competitor through physical play and determination to win. The thunderous support of the crowd gave Team Lebanon a boost, particularly Joe Vogel who scored a game high 24 points.
The number one draft pick of the Houston Rockets was injured in the second half when Lebanon Center Ali Fakhreddine took down Yao with an accidental elbow to the jaw. Yao was bleeding and had four stitches as a result.
When Lebanon faced China in the 2001 Asian Basketball Championships, a brawl broke out between both teams. The International Basketball Association (FIBA) issued suspensions for the altercation.
Following the game with Lebanon, China faced Saudi Arabia. Without the help of their leader Yao, China dealt Saudi Arabia an embarrassing 98-10 thrashing.
China's head coach Jonas Kaslauskas was upset with the easy victory, "Saudi Arabia shouldn't have played like this ... I don't think today's win does any good to our game. Tomorrow there will be a completely different game. I'm afraid my players will feel relaxed after the win."
Lebanon's Fadi El-khatib (R) strips the ball from Japan's Tomoo Amino
Supporters of Lebanon's national basketball team cheer for their team
Lebanon's Ali Mahmoud (L) defends Japan's Ryota Sakurai
Lebanon's Joe Vogel (R) blocks a shot by Japan's Ryota Sakurai (L)
Lebanon's Ali Fakhreddine (R) fights for a shot with Japan's Joji Takeuchi
Lebanon's Fadi El-Khatib (L) shoots over Japan's Naoto Nakamura
Lebanon's Joe Vogel (R) faces off with Japan's Kosuke Takeuchi for the jump ball
Supporters of Lebanon's national basketball team dominated the stands
Face paintings reminiscent of the Cedar Revolution!
China's Yao Ming (front) being guarded by Lebanon's Paul Khoury
China's Yao Ming (C) is challenged by Lebanon's Paul Khoury (L) and Joe Vogel
Lebanon's Ali Mahmoud (R) drives by China's Du feng (L)
Sources: Ya Libnan, Xinhua, Reuters/Yahoo
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