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Lebanon handed tough draw for FIBA-Asia Championship.

Summary: Lebanon were drawn in Group D of the FIBA-Asia Championship, which is due to be held September in Changsha, China.The final groupings were determined after the draw for the tournament was made Saturday.

BEIRUT: Lebanon were drawn in Group D of the FIBA-Asia Championship, which is due to be held September in Changsha, China.The final groupings were determined after the draw for the tournament was made Saturday.

Lebanon were pitted against Qatar, Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan, in one of the toughest groups of the competition.

Defending champions Iran are together with Japan, Malaysia and one more nation yet to be determined from South Asia in Group A.

Philippines were drawn alongside Kuwait, Palestine and one more team from East Asia -- either Hong Kong or Mongolia in Group B.

Group C has Korea, Jordan, China and Singapore.

The Chinese had the liberty of choosing what group they would be in as the host country.

Only one slot will be up for grabs for Asia, meaning only the champion in the tournament slated to be held in Hunan province in China, will punch a ticket to play in the Olympics against the best countries in the world.

The tournament format calls for each team to play its groupmates once, with the top three in each bracket advancing to join the top three from another bracket to form a new group.

The second round will be another round-robin among six teams, their records in the first round carried over, with the top two from Groups E and F advancing to play in the crossover final eight.

Should Lebanon manage to qualify from the first round, they most likely will have to battle against China, South Korea and Jordan.

The top four teams from each of the two groups qualify to the knockout stages.

But for head coach Veselin Matic, the team should not really worry about the results of the draw and just play their best basketball.

"We really shouldn't care much now about the possibilities, and whom we might face in the quarterfinals. I prefer to think game by game and focus on today rather than tomorrow," he said.

"Our group is very, very hard and complicated. We are in group with four teams who are no pushovers.

"They are renowned teams with a good history. All of them managed to make it to the top four once or more before.

"We now have three months left before the tournament, and our concentration is on bringing the team together and preparing well.

"It's a good thing that we have many games against European teams, and most of the teams we will face early on adapt to the European style," Matic explained.

The Cedars are currently training with 12 players: Ali Mezher, Wael Arakji, Miguel Martinez, Omar Ayoubi, Elie Chamoun, Hayk Gyokchyan, Bassel Bawji, Edward Bshara, Jimmy Salem, Ribal Beshara, Rodrigue and Ralf Akl.

The team is currently preparing for the Arab Championship which is set to take place between July 21 and 30.

The full squad will be available starting Aug. 1.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jun 29, 2015
Words:528
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