FIBA Asia unable to find replacement for Lebanon, field down to 15 teams

FIBA Asia photo

FIBA Asia photo

With the FIBA ban on Lebanon now official, the FIBA Asia Championship field is down to 15 teams.

“We tried our best to find a replacement team, but given the short period of time available we couldn’t find any,” said FIBA Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian on Friday.

Iraq and United Arab Emirates were both reportedly asked to take Lebanon’s slot in the competition, but neither country is apparently ready to send a team to the Asian championship.

That means teams in Group B where Lebanon was originally bracketed — Japan, Qatar and Hong Kong — will play only three preliminary matches. Those teams will get an automatic ticket to the second round, where it will face qualifiers from Group A, which includes the Philippines.

FIBA affirmed the suspension on Lebanon on Thursday despite efforts by the country’s basketball federation and Khajirian, a Lebanon national, to reverse the decision to pave the way for its participation in the Asian championship.

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