MANILA, Philippines – Australia survived a feisty comeback from gutsy Lebanon to defend its FIBA Asia Cup crown following an enthralling 75-73 finals win at the Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday, July 24.
Wael Arakji put the Cedars on his back with a 28 points and hit a bunch of big shots late, but their comeback fell short as the Boomers claimed their second Asia Cup title and remained unbeaten in the continental showdown.
Lebanon trailed 58-71 with three minutes left before it sliced its deficit to a whisker off a blazing 15-3 run capped by an Arakji three-pointer with seven ticks remaining, 73-74.
But Australia held on with Rhys Anthony Vague splitting his free throws for the final tally and Ali Haidar missing his potential game-winning heave at the buzzer.
Former NBA player Thon Maker shone on both ends for the Boomers with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Mitchell McCarron tallied 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals in the win, while Tyrese Proctor put up 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Haidar backstopped Arakji with 23 points and 9 rebounds for Lebanon, which bagged an Asia Cup silver for the first time since the 2007 edition in Tokushima, Japan.
Meanwhile, New Zealand secured third place with an 83-75 win over Jordan behind a sensational performance from Tohi Smith-Milner.
Smith-Milner erupted for 25 points for the Tall Blacks, while Takiula Fahrensohn and Sam Timmins added 19 and 12 points, respectively.
The Philippines failed to reach the quarterfinals of the continental tournament for the first time in 15 years after Gilas Pilipinas absorbed a 102-81 loss to Japan in their knockout playoff match last July 19. – Rappler.com