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Lebanon down Iraq to seal place in Asia Cup
Written by Malek

by dailystar.com -- James Jabra -- BEIRUT: Lebanon overcame a resilient Iraqi side 78-69 in an Asia Cup 2021 qualifier in Manama, Bahrain Sunday to book their place in next year’s continental showpiece event. It was the Cedars’ fourth win from as many games in qualification, maintaining their grip on Group D with eight points. Joe Moujaes’ side had limbered up nicely for Sunday’s vital encounter with a 115-60 trouncing of India Friday, but they were slow out of the blocks against table-proppers Iraq. Demario Mayfield was pulling the strings for Iraq in the first half, and a clutch of assists from the naturalized American saw Iraq take a narrow 40-36 lead into the break. But Lebanon, spearheaded by the talismanic Wael Arakji, swiftly regained the upper hand with a 19-5 run to open the third quarter

Ali Mansour’s timely 3 at the end of the period virtually sealed proceedings, with Lebanon boasting a handsome 66-51 lead ahead of the final stanza. And man-of-the-match Arakji fittingly set the seal on another impressive Lebanese performance, converting on a driving lay-up late in the period to fire the Cedars into the 2021 Asia Cup. Arakji led all scorers with an efficient 25 points, going 9/16 from the field, 2/4 from beyond the arc and a perfect 5/5 from the free throw line. Karim Zeinoun added 16 points for Lebanon, while Ater Majok chipped in 12 points and six rebounds. Iraq’s Mayfield flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.