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FIBA SUSPENSION ON LEBANON STAYS

LEBANON’s desperate bid for inclusion in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship just went down the drain.

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The International Basketball Federation on Thursday upheld the suspension it meted on Lebanon, quashing the latter’s hopes of making it to the continental tournament Manila is hosting Aug. 1 to 11.

In affirming its July 11 decision to suspend Lebanon, the world’s highest governing body in the sport cited the failure of that country’s basketball federation to put its state of affairs in order as per FIBA requirements.

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“The governance issues affecting basketball in Lebanon are much deeper and much more serious than the mere absence of proper appeal and disciplinary regulations within your statutes. Accordingly we are regretfully not in a position to reconsider our decision of July 11, 2013, and the Lebanese basketball federation remains suspended,” said FIBA in a statement.

“Despite your attempts and those of the FIBA ASIA secretary-general within the past few days to find solutions to these issues, the situation remains highly unstable,” the statement added.

“The scenario represents without any doubt the most serious violation of the FIBA General Statutes and all principles under which the Olympic sports movement is founded. Your federation was not and still is not properly armed to face political interference and solve sporting disputes within its own structures.”

That meant the Lebanese, who are already in Manila, will be barred from competing in the FIBA Asia tourney that gives to the top three finishers slots in next years’ FIBA World Cup in Spain.

“It is unfortunate that Lebanon will not be able to participate,” said Sonny Barrios, executive director of the organizing Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc.

“We feel sorry for the Lebanon national team which is in Manila early as part of its preparation for the Championship,” added Barrios. “We can only wish them well and hope for positive developments in the future for Lebanese basketball as their officials try to  resolve the issues confronting them.”

According to the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star (www.dailystar.com.lb), citing national team committee member Jean Mamo, the team has booked a return flight for home and will arrive in Beirut on Saturday.

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Some sure participants benefitted most from the latest development.

Lebanon was earlier bracketed in Group B along with Japan, Qatar and Hong Kong in the first round where the top three teams advance following intra group play.

FIBA Asia has stated there will be no other invitee, leaving Group B with just three teams which thus gained free passage to the next round of the preliminaries.

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