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Jordan hosts West Asian Basketball Championship

By Aline Bannayan - May 28,2015 - Last updated at May 28,2015

AMMAN – Jordan play Palestine in the opening of the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) Championship on Friday.

Iraq will also play Lebanon on the opening day while Syria plays Palestine on Saturday. Three teams will move on to the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China in September.

Hosts China and 2014 FIBA Asia Cup champions Iran have automatically qualified. The winner of the tournament qualifies to the basketball tournament at the 2016 Summer Olympics,

Last year, Jordan won the WABA title for the second time in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams and represented the West Asia zone at the 5th FIBA Asia Cup.

China, as well as defending FIBA Asia Championship titleholders Iran, automatically qualified to the event held every two years and previously known as Stankovich Cup. Qatar were champs in 2004, Jordan in 2008, Lebanon in 2010 and Iran in 2012 and 2014.

Jordan first won the West Asia title in 2002. In the 2011 qualifiers, Jordan finished second behind Iran and qualified to the 26th FIBA Asia Championship where, for the first time in the country’s history, Jordan reached the final but lost the chance to qualify to the 2012 Olympic Games by losing the final 70-69 to China. Jordan then played at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Men but lost to Puerto Rico and Greece and was eliminated. The OQT gave Asia’s second and third teams a chance to qualify to the London Games basketball event. 

Different age groups have been back on the west Asian and Asian scenes with the hope of rebuilding all national teams and bringing back the zeal of competition to the country’s second most popular game.

Recently, the boys were eliminated from U-16 West Asian Basketball Championship. 

Last year, Jordan hosted the 22nd FIBA Asia U-18 Championship for Women with China beating Japan in Level 1 to win the title for the 14th time. Despite finishing 5th in Level 2, Jordan Basketball Federation officials viewed the event as “a platform to jump back and advance the game on the local and regional levels”.

The top three teams from the FIBA Asia U-18 Championship represent FIBA Asia at the FIBA U-19 World Championship for Women to be played in Russia in July 2015. 

It was in 2013 and after nearly a 20-year break, that Jordan returned to the Asian women’s competitions when the U-16 women’s team played at the 3rd FIBA Asia U-16 Championship for Women in Sri Lanka where they finished 5th in Level 2.

With the women’s game having little prominence locally, the national team had not competed on the Asian scene since 1995 when Jordan became the first Arab team to play at the Asian Basketball Confederation Women’s Championship in Japan and the U-18 team played at FIBA Asia U-18 Championship in 1996 in Thailand where they finished 8th.

Therefore, the U-18 and U-16 teams are viewed by ex-coaches, players and officials as momentous for being back on the court as the only Arab squad alongside leading Asian teams. 

 

Although the men’s basketball team reached the World Championship in 2010 — and was the only Jordanian team to actually reach that stage — after the Junior team qualified in 1995, official support for Jordan’s second most popular sport is seen as below par for most observers, leading to a decline in the game locally and less competitive on the international scene.

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