Lebanon hand Tall Blacks their first FIBA Basketball Qualifiers setback, ending their unbeaten streak

FIBA World Cup lebanon

The fact that both New Zealand and Lebanon have earned spots in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 for the following year did not prevent their Window 5 match from being a battle to the finish.

Lebanon emerged victorious in the end, defeating New Zealand for the second consecutive time this year with a score of 77-65 thanks to a dominant second half.

This is New Zealand’s first defeat in the Asian Qualifiers, which they have suffered as a result of their loss. It was also an opportunity for New Zealand to exact some measure of revenge on Lebanon, as the All Whites had defeated the Cedars of Lebanon in Beirut during the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.

Effectively eliminating Lebanon’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup

Both teams struggled offensively early on in the games, especially in the second quarter, when New Zealand scored 15 points to Lebanon’s 13 and New Zealand led the overall score with a 15-13 advantage.

In the second half, it turned out to be something completely different. Lebanon came out of the halftime break determined to make a statement, and they did so by going on a 14-0 run. During this stretch, they kept one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the Asian Qualifiers scoreless for nearly 4 full minutes.

New Zealand was never truly eliminated from contention; however, they were never able to gain sufficient footing in the game to mount a run that would give them the lead once again.

Ali Haidar, who was filling in for Wael Arakji during this window, had a significant role to play and was successful in the game. With 21 points, the big man was the game’s leading scorer. The Cedars received contributions from five other players who each scored at least 8 points.


Tohi Smith Milner, who was a hero for the Tall Blacks in the Asia Cup, had a big game for the Tall Blacks, scoring 17 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in the team’s loss.

The decisive moment came right after Lebanon came out of the locker room, when they scored 14 points in a row without any opposition to take a commanding lead in the game. The sequence of five points scored by Hayk Gyokchyan during that run was the defining moment of that stretch, and it was the spark that set the team on the path to victory. Gyokchyan finished the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds, which was very close to a double-double.

Gyokchyan, the hero of the game, was the one who started the run. The majority of the scoring was handled by Haidar. But it was Ali Mansour who exemplified grace throughout the entirety of the game, leading the Cedars to a victory that was absolutely necessary.

The 24-year-old guard had a combination of a little bit of everything, which was enough to lift his team through. He had 9 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, which was enough to carry his team through.

In fact, Lebanon shot worse than New Zealand, which triumphed in the battle for rebounds. They were able to convert a sizable amount of possessions, leading to 25 Tall Blacks mistakes, and just impede New Zealand’s offensive flow in whatever way they could. In this game, the Tall Blacks, who are typically noted for their ball movement, only managed 9 assists.

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