Chu Il-seung-ho’s quest for his first away gold medal in 41 years has one variable removed.
Chinese media outlet Xinhua reported, “Lebanon will send its most elite athletes to the Hangzhou Asian Games. However, the basketball team will not be participating. The reasons are injuries to several players and problems with their home schedule in October,” Xinhua reported.안전놀이터
Lebanon is in Group B alongside China, Chinese Taipei, and Mongolia at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. Omari Spellman’s return to Anyang as head coach puts a question mark over the quality of naturalized players, but the core of Wael Araji, Ali Haidar, Sergio El Darwish and Amir Saoud remains intact and is expected to challenge China for top spot in the group.
Chu Il-seung-ho, who will be looking for his first away gold medal in 41 years, has removed one variable. Photo courtesy of the Korea Basketball Association
In fact, Lebanon went 2-3 at this year’s FIBA 2023 Basketball World Cup Philippines-Japan-Indonesia. They dropped three games in the group stage against Canada, Latvia, and France, but defeated Côte d’Ivoire and Iran to tie with Japan for the last spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
If Lebanon had finished second in Group B, they would have faced the third-place finisher from Group A and a potential quarterfinal matchup with South Korea. For South Korea, Lebanon’s withdrawal is good news, as they were destined to meet either China or Lebanon in the quarterfinals if they finished first in Pool D.
With Lebanon’s withdrawal, only China, Taiwan, and Mongolia remain in Group B. China’s chances of finishing first have increased with the loss of their biggest competitor. Second place in the group is expected to go to “double-armed” Taiwan.
Of course, China has some major internal issues. Ace Zhou Qi is out with a herniated disk. Naturalized player Kyle Anderson is also not competing at the Asian Games. Coach Alexander Jorcevic has even been criticized by the public and the media for not playing Wang Jialin throughout the Basketball World Cup and pushing for Hu Jinyu. Add to that the fact that Guo Ailun returned to the court after an injury and was ignored, and Zheng Fanbo was sidelined.
Still, it’s unlikely that China will be upstaged by Chinese Taipei at the Asian Games on home soil – they’re obviously looking to win the title, and with the Philippines and Japan not fielding their best teams, they’re not too worried about South Korea.
South Korea is in Group D with Japan, Indonesia, and Qatar. While Qatar is an upset, it’s unlikely they’ll lose to Japan, which is coming off a B team, or Indonesia, which is a relative underdog. Photo courtesy of the Korea Basketball Association
South Korea is in Group D with Japan, Indonesia, and Qatar. There is the variable of Qatar, but they are unlikely to lose to Japan, a B team, or Indonesia, a relatively weak team. Topping the group is entirely possible, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen.
Plus, Lebanon is out of the equation for the quarterfinals. The important thing is after the quarterfinals. If the tournament goes according to plan, Korea will face either Jordan or the Philippines in the quarterfinals. Jordan has Ronde Hollis Jefferson, who was released from KCC the week before. He is unstoppable at the Asian level. The Philippines are armed with two naturalized players in Justin Brownlee and Angel Cuame. The quarterfinals is their first hurdle.
And if they make it to the final, they will face either China or Iran. With Hamed Haddadi retired, China is the favorite to win the gold medal.
If South Korea meets China in the final, they will have to deal with an unimaginable amount of favoritism as this is their home Asian Games. Thirteen years ago at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were reduced to tears by China’s massive favoritism.
However, the odds have never been stacked in favor of gold at an away Asian Games. South Korea is without Oh Seung-geun and Moon Sung-gon, as well as Lee Hyun-jung and Yeo Jun-seok, but their competitors are also significantly weakened. Most notably, China is weaker. If they can get through the quarterfinals and the final, they have a great chance to win their first away Asian Games gold medal in 41 years.