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Jordan tips off Asian qualifiers for Basketball World Cup

03

AMMAN — Jordan starts its Asian qualifiers for the Basketball World Cup — the world's premier basketball competition — when they host Saudi Arabia at Prince Hamzah Arena on Friday evening.

The team will play their return game in Jeddah on November 29, as national sides play home and away games across three windows in Round 1. Twelve teams will make it to Round 2, which will also have three windows up to February 2023. From the sixteen Asian nations competing there will be seven representing the continent at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

The Asian/ Oceania qualifiers include: 

Group A: India, South Korea, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Group B: Australia, China, Chinese Taipei and Japan.

Group C Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Group D: Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan and Syria.

Jordan previously reached the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010 and 2019, becoming the first and only Jordanian team to actually reach a World Cup in a team sport alongside the junior men's team in 1995.

Now, former team star Wisam Sous, who played in the 2010 World Cup, is leading the team as head coach. The team just returned from a training camp in Turkey and Sous underlined "the squad has their eyes set on the goal. Reaching the World Cup".

The next edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will take place from August 25 to September 10, 2023 in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines with seven nations from Asia and Oceania qualifying for the 32-country field. As event hosts, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines have automatically qualify. Asia was last on the World Cup podium back in 1954 when the Philippines placed third.

The tournament will serve as qualification for the 2024 Summer Olympics, where the top two teams from each of the Americas and Europe, and the top team from each of Africa, Asia and Oceania, will qualify alongside the tournament's host France.

Earlier this year, Jordan qualified to the FIBA Asia Cup — the continent's leading basketball tournament after an unbeaten streak in qualifiers hosted in Amman. The FIBA Asia Cup 2021 will be played in Jakarta, Indonesia, but is now rescheduled to July 2022, right after the window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asia qualifiers.

Jordan, playing without its well-known stars and without a naturalised professional player, beat all odds after an inconsistent preparation period marred with the COVID-19 outbreak and postponements.

However, then coach, former national team star Marwan Ma'touq led the team to qualification, enlisting Sous and Mohammad Hamdan as his coaching staff, and relying on a new line-up of players that promise well for Jordan's future in the game.

The relatively new line-up managed to seal the qualifiers with an unbeaten run and moved alongside Kazakhstan from Group F to be one of 16 teams in the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup. In their qualifying journey, Jordan beat Sri Lanka 100-45 and Kazakhstan 71-68 before the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the world sporting agenda in 2020. Jordan's matches were again postponed in February 2021 when the team was hit with COVID-19 during their Bahrain training camp. As they resumed qualifiers, they beat Palestine twice 88-77, 79-76 and Kazakhstan 80-70. The Sri Lankan team did not play due to covid fears.

Jordan's best showing at the FIBA Asia Cup (previously called FIBA Asia Championship) was third in 2009 and runner-up in 2011 when they reached the final for the first time in the country's history, but lost the chance of qualifying to the 2012 Olympic Games after losing the final 70-69 to China. Jordan then played the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but lost to Puerto Rico and Greece and were eliminated.

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