TIANJIN (FIBA Asia Championship) - Ayman Idais and Rasheim Wright scythed through the rival defence during each other’s slump in form to help Jordan to an 80-66 win over fellow West Asian nation Lebanon in the bronze medal play-off on Sunday.
The win helped the Mario Palma trained Jordan to book their entry into the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
“We have been working on this for the last three years,” Jordan coach Mario Palma said.
“I think Jordan came into Tianjin as one of the teams capable of winning the Championship. We fell short in that, but today we were focused,” Palma said.
Lebanon finished without a medal for the first time in three championships, having bagged with the silver in both 2005 and 2007 FIBA Asia Championships.
Jordan had never beaten Lebanon coming into this Championship – having lost all their three previous encounters – but in Tianjin, Jordan opened their campaign with an 84-67 win over Lebanon and finished it beating the same rivals.
“What matters is the timing of the win,” bemoaned Lebanon coach Dragan Raca said.
Wright shrugged off a second quarter strife to find rhythm and led the scoring for the game with 28 points, in a 55% field record (9/14), including a 2/6 in three-pointers.
Wright also had five rebounds – four in defence – and five assists.
Idais stepped up when Wright struggled and returned a 20-point haul.
Idais converted only one of his three two-pointer attempts, but shot down an incredible 6/8 in the long rangers.
Fortunes in the early part of the game resembled the Tianjin Eye with the teams gaining absolute control of the proceedings, when their offensive plays worked only to start going down, allowing the rivals to come up similar scoring sprees.
Wright contributed five as Jordan scored the first 10 points of the game, but Lebanon hit back with a 19-0 run to close the first quarter 19-10 ahead.
Fadi El Khatib who opened the scoring for Lebanon converting his twin free-throws went on to add four more and Jackson Vroman combined to a nicety in the paint for Lebanon to take this lead, which only piqued Jordan to fight back yet again.
“I think our team took it for granted at that point. They thought they had won the game already and became complacent,” Raca said.
Idais sank two silken three-pointers and Sam Daghles added another as Jordan blitzed the latter part of the second quarter with a 13-1 run to head into the locker rooms with a 36-28 lead.
Idais who drew a blank in the 3:46 he played in the first quarter, had 15 points in the second quarter, all of them coming in three-pointers out of a six attempts.
Wright added only two points, but effected four assists in the second quarter.
But the former Tulsa 66ers guard, exploded with customary fluency in the third quarter accounting for 13 points, in a 5/7 field record including finding the mark in his only three-pointer attempt during this time.
That surge kept Jordan in good stead till the final buzzer.
“The difference between yesterday and today was that we got those shots in which we were missing yesterday,” Palma said.
“After the loss yesterday, we watched the second semifinal and the players told each other ‘C’mon let’s forget it and move ahead. We have Turkey in our sight,” said Jordan guard Sam Daghles.
Vroman ploughed a rather lonely, and therefore, losing furrow for Lebanon with 18 points.
Fadi El Khatib shot a woeful 3/10 in field attempts for his 13 points and Rony Fahed had as many points.
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