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Lower-Tier Teams Make Final Appearance at World Basketball Championship - 2002-09-03


The bottom teams have completed play at the World Basketball Championship tournament with a pair of spirited games Tuesday.

Over the past four days of action, four talented but loosely organized teams were overpowered by squads with a larger physical presence and more professional experience. But the underdogs of the World Basketball Championship were more evenly matched against each other, and it showed during their final appearance.

Canada capped a disappointing tournament marred by injuries and inexperience with a victory. Canada beat Venezuela by sinking the final basket to win, 98-97. Canadian coach Jay Triano emphasized he wanted his whole team to play.

"I knew in these last couple games that I was going to play my bench players," he said. "I was going to play my younger players. And I was going to let them enjoy the great experience of playing in a World Championship. Because it is an experience to go to them.. But it is a bigger experience and they gather more from it by playing in the games."

In other action, Algeria took 15th place after dominating the second half to beat Lebanon, 100-70. Lebanon had led by one point at halftime, 43-42.

Lebanon was a team literally thrown together just days before the tournament and finished last after losing all five of its games at Indianapolis. The team also endured the firing of American-born coach John Neumann after his vocal frustrations upset Lebanese basketball officials.

The attendance at the 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis has become the subject of much discussion through the first five days of competition. Thousand of empty seats have been the norm at most of the games played so far.

FIBA head of communications Florian Wanniger said that the perception that the event is a box office flop is totally false.

Wanniger points out that crowd only begin showing up when the tournament reaches the quarter-final round. He added they expect to have sell-outs. Through the first eight sessions total attendance has been 71,000 and 69,000 for an average of 8,864 per contest.

In second round games played on Tuesday, Yugoslavia bounced back from their upset loss to Puerto Rico on Monday with a 90-69 rout of Brazil. Peja Stojakovic, who plays for the NBA Sacramento Kings, led the winners with 19 points. Turkey scored an 86-66 win over Angola. Mirsad Turkan led the Turks with 26 points.

In classification games, Canada downed Venezuela, 98-87 while Algeria clobbered Lebanon, 100-70.

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