Lebanon last played China on Tuesday. Despite losing the game, the boys in red and white proved to be effective at limiting China’s towering NBA superstar, 7’5" (2.26m) Center Yao Ming. Yao (pictured right) was held to 14 points and missed most of the game after Lebanon’s Ali Fakhreddine took down Yao with an accidental elbow to the jaw.  The performance of the Lebanese national team in the Asian Basketball Championships paints a very telling story. While winning a single game is attainable by most teams, playing 8 games in 9 days against high caliber opponents is a testament to Lebanon’s resilience and determination to win. Coach Paul Coughter deserves significant credit for harnessing the winning streak and for leading the team to focus on achieving a higher standard.

While the coach and the team have done a terrific job, Lebanon’s fans deserve as much credit for motivating the team to think big. Despite the home court advantage for Qatar, Lebanon had the majority of the crowd on their side throughout the tournament. Filling the stands with red, white and green flags, Team Lebanon supporters have made the national team a force to be reckoned with. Please Click "READ MORE" to view pictures of this wonderful match.

 Lebanon has been hit with enough tragedy and instability to drive most countries into the ground. However, the relentlessness of 12 magnificent competitors has given so many of us a chance to feel great again. If only our politicians were as noble as our athletes!

The competitive spirit and success amassed on a hardwood basketball court has given us so much already. The immediate result is being invited to compete against the entire world next year in the 2006 World Basketball Championships in Japan. More importantly, such success gives Lebanese a much needed swagger, a feeling that we too can dream about being the World’s best.

One more victory, and Lebanon will be crowned Asian Champions. Here’s to the fans!

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 Lebanon’s Fadi Al-khatib (R) and Qatar’s Erfan Ali Saeed fight for the ball during their semi-final match at the Asian Basketball Championships in Doha, Qatar, September 15, 2005. Lebanon defeated Qatar 83-79. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad.

 Lebanese players celebrate after winning Qatar in their 23rd Asian Basketball Championship semi-final basketball match at Al-Gharrafa hall in Doha, Qatar September 15, 2005. Lebanon defeated Qatar 83-79 to qualify for the final.


 Lebanon’s Rony Fahed (L) tries to dribble past Qatar’s Daoud Musa Daoud during their semi-final match at the Asian Basketball Championships in Doha, Qatar, September 15, 2005. Lebanon