As a newcomer to Lebanon’s basketball scene, Philip Tabet will have a big challenge ahead of him when he dons the jersey of Sagesse club for the 2012-2013 season.
Not only is he playing for one of the most prestigious clubs in Lebanon, but he’s also the twin brother of Charles Tabet, who is fast becoming a fan favorite after two incredible seasons with Anibal Zahle. The 25-year-old center completed his first week of training sessions with Sagesse, and he is already excited for the start of the season which is expected on Oct 27.
Tabet (205cm) a standout of South Alabama, spoke to the The Daily Star ahead of his first season in the Lebanese basketball league.
“I am a team player who has a strong passion for the game. I play with my heart on the court, willing to do anything for the team’s success. I am a versatile player who can cause many problems for the defense, whether through the post or on the perimeter,” Tabet said.
Asked whether sitting out for the last two years would affect his level of play, Tabet said, “Before fulfilling my dream of playing professional basketball, I have always wanted to pursue furthering my education and completing my master’s degree. I achieved this goal by attending the University of Arkansas and earned my master’s in sports management.
“While attending University of Arkansas, I was on the coaching staff. I was never away from the game that I love so much. Whether it was playing pickup with the guys or breaking down game film, I never left the game,” he explained.
Sagesse, who haven’t won the league since 2004, have been seeking to retain their glory days, having spent large amounts of money in the preseason. However, Tabet is pleased to be part of it.
“I expect nothing but the best. Sagesse has such a rich tradition and history that I am honored to be a part of it. I have surrounded myself with great people and teammates, and I am looking forward to a great season,” he said.
“My teammates are amazing, and they have done nothing but help me adapt and make Sagesse a home away from home,” Tabet said after his first training session with the team.
“They treat me like family. My brother [Charles Tabet] has built a strong relationship with all the guys. So, it was as if I have known them already for the past two years, which has made it quite easy to become part of this team, family.
“The technical staff and management are clearly very important to me especially due to my knowledge and experience in coaching. It was one of my deciding factors of my decision to sign with the club,” he added.
Philip and Charles will be playing again on the same team after graduating from South Alabama college in the NCAA Division One, and people will have a tough time distinguishing them as they are identical twins. And now that Charles has become one of the best centers in the Lebanese league, comparisons are already being made.
“I look up to Charles and respect him as a brother and a player, who in such a short period has established himself and is now a key player in our league. At the same time, he has paved the way and is showing me the ropes, which makes it easy for me to join the league.
“Comparisons between Charles and I have already started, and it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I do not even look at that nonsense. People can say what they want, when they want, and how they want, but comparisons will not break Charles and I apart. We are a family before anything else; he is my brother and I love him,” the 25-year-old center said.
“The Lebanese league is a competitive one with a talented pool of players. I have full respect for all the players in this league. They all have made a name for themselves, and I am looking to do the same and earn respect.”
Tabet is expected to come up against great centers in the league such as Riyadi’s American giant Loren Woods, Egyptian veteran Ismael Ahmad and Champville duo Garnett Thompson and Reyshawn Terry.
“I have respect for all the players in this league, but when it comes to opponents I will treat them all the same. Whether I’m guarding Loren Woods or the last person on the roster, I will give it all I’ve got,” Tabet said.
With the national team lacking naturally talented centers, Lebanese fans and coaches will be hoping that Philip Tabet will be a force to reckon with in The Cedars’ frontcourt.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play for Lebanon’s national team. I have made it a goal of mine to join the team as soon as I gain the confidence of the Federation and its coaching staff. Believe me, it will be sooner rather than later,” Tabet said.
Tabet also had a word to share with Sagesse fans, as he promised to give his best to fulfill their dreams.
“Sagesse fans are expecting a lot from me, and I will do my best to fulfill all the fans’ expectations. At the same time, I am focused and have put high expectations on myself. It is important for me to adapt to the league as quickly as possible in order to become a key player. I have set many goals for myself for this upcoming year and for the years to come. They will be accomplished.”
“I would like to thank God for giving me this opportunity and opening many doors in my life. A special thanks to my family and friends back home for their continuous support,” he added.
With the season’s start just around the corner, fans will soon find out if the hype surrounding Tabet materializes.