BEIRUT, Lebanon (WABA League): The WABA board on Friday decided to impose a two-year ban on Syrian team Al Jala’a, which defaulted from playing the Game 5 of this year’s WABA League Finals.
Jala’a, who were also fined US $ 30,000, however can play in the forthcoming 22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup as a WABA representative.
“We looked at the issue in different perspectives,” explained WABA Secretary General Hagop Khajirian (right in the pic above).
“But let me make it clear at the outset that we followed the WABA League Regulations. All our decisions are based on that,” he added.
“On the one hand, was the issue of Jala’a representing WABA in this year’s FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Jala’a had as a matter of fact qualified for the Manila event, when they became the only Syrian team to qualify for the semifinals of the WABA League. We didn’t want to change that, because it will affect the players who had worked hard,” Khajirian said.
“On the other, was the serious issue of Jala’a not turning up for the Game 5 of the Finals which was scheduled on a neutral territory,” he said.
Jala’a had won the first two games of the Finals against Al Riyadi Beirut of Lebanon at Aleppo, before the latter won the next two at Beirut to tie the series and push it to Game 5.
Game 5 was scheduled to be played at Amman on April 28, for which Jala’a did not turn up thereby handing over the title to the Lebanese by forfeit.
“Their (Jala’a) absence from Game 5 was a breach of trust on all accounts – with our marketing and television partners as well as thousands of basketball fans in our region. A lot of people had put a lot at stake for the WABA League which was revived this year. With Jala’a playing truant a lot of that hard work was undone. We could not tolerate such misbehavior,” Khajirian said.
Incidentally, Jala’a are drawn alongside Riyadi along with another WABA team Mahram of Iran, Qatar’s Al Rayyan and Emirians Al Shabab in Group B of the 22nd Champions Cup starting in Manila on May 28.
Photo: Adnan Hajj Ali