BEIRUT: The 27th Asian championship will be held in Lebanon for the first time after Beirut was selected ahead of Manila and Tehran to host the 2013 event. The decision was made by a vote of the FIBA Asia executive committee after having reviewed presentations made by representatives of two of the three bidders – Lebanon and the Philippines – for the right to host the association’s marquee event.
Star player Fadi al-Khatib presented Lebanon’s bid, a 10 minute video demonstration showcasing the venues and hotels to be used during the championship. The presentation also highlighted the strong support of Lebanese fans and the beauty of Lebanon as a tourist destination.
“We have been working on the bid for quite some time, and luckily we were able to convince the FIBA Asia board to grant the hosting rights despite a few concerns over the security situation,” said Georges Barakat, head of the Lebanese Basketball Union.
“It gives us a golden opportunity to develop the game, with the eyes of the whole basketball community on us. We are ready and we have almost a year to prepare for the tournament.”
Lebanon will be the third Arab nation to host the FIBA Asia championship, after Saudi Arabia hosted in 1997, followed by Qatar in 2005.The tournament determines which international sides qualify for the World Championships.Lebanon have good memories of hosting Asian tournaments, with Ghazir Stadium having held three major events.
The 1999 and 2000 Asian Champions Cups provided historic moments for Lebanese basketball, with Sagesse crowned back-to-back champions.
The Lebanese national team also succeeded at the stadium, winning the third FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup in 2010 ahead of Japan and Qatar.
“The sports city stadium will be the main court, while we are still to decide whether to use Manara or Jamhour stadiums as the second court,” Barakat revealed.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 21, 2012, on page 14.