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Fight at China Basketball Game

July 25, 2001

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SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ Four Lebanese basketball players were injured in a bench-clearing brawl with China’s team at an Asian tournament.

The China Basketball Association expressed ``deep regret″ at the fight and said it would launch a full investigation. Lebanon’s coach also apologized.

China’s Zhang Cheng was suspended for upcoming games against Japan and Taiwan after the fight late Monday at the Asian Men’s Basketball Championship. Lebanon’s Walid Eldomiati received a ``serious warning,″ tournament spokeswoman Xiao Feng said.

``They were the two persons stirring up the incident,″ Xiao Feng said Wednesday. She called the dispute ``a scrap.″

Two of the four injured Lebanese required medical attention.

The fight began in the waning moments of a game won by China 87-76. Zhang and Eldomiati met at center court and began to fight. It was unclear who threw the first punch.

``We would like to apologize to the Lebanon team,″ the Chinese association said in a statement Tuesday. ``China Basketball Association is responsible for the problem of the Chinese team due to lax administration and education. We will take further measures to improve the management.″

Lebanon coach Carl John Neumann also said his team was ``very sorry.″

``Coaches of the two teams have met each other and players of the two sides have restored good relations,″ he said. Still, Lebanese players asked for and received police protection outside their hotel rooms and 24-hour security escort on the streets of Shanghai.

Update hourly