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Lebanon clinches last FIBA Asia playoff seat by ousting Jordan

By Ivan Saldajeno

CHANGSHA--So much for a dream quarterfinal between Gilas Pilipinas and former coach Rajko Toroman and Jordan.

Lebanon spoiled what could have been a must-watch as it downed Jordan, 80-76, in the final day of the second round of the FIBA Asia Championship at the CSWC Dayun Arena on Tuesday night.

Lebanon, however, had to overcome a gradual comeback bid by Jordan to seal the playoff date with Gilas on Thursday.

Lebanon led by as much as 19 points, 51-32, early in the third quarter, but Jordan went on a 20-7 run later in the period to cut the advantage to six, 58-52, late in the period.

Lebanon appeared to restore control, going on an 8-2 run spanning the final two quarters to go up, 66-54, early in the fourth and keeping the double-digit spread in the first four minutes of the period.

But a 10-3 Jordan rally trimmed its deficit to just five, 70-75, with 3:03 remaining.

Mohamad Haidar scored on a deuce to extend Lebanon's lead to seven with 2:01 left.

Alex Legion answered with 55 seconds to go, and the lead was down to five anew, 77-72.

Jasmon Youngblood appeared to have sealed Lebanon's win with two charities with 40 seconds remaining.

Legion, however, made two free throws of his own and scored a field goal off his steal to draw Jordan to within three, 76-79, with 11 seconds to go.

Jean Abd El Nour only made a split from the line in the next Lebanon possession, but Jordan failed to score in the final eight seconds of the game.

Amir Saoud led Lebanon with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal, while Haidar added 15 markers, seven boards, one dime, one swipe, and one block.

Legion scored a game-high 24 points along with four rebounds, three steals, and a block for Jordan, which got eliminated in the process.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno