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Jordan makes strong comeback to women’s Asian basketball

By Aline Bannayan - Nov 13,2021 - Last updated at Nov 13,2021

Jordan’s Dana Fadda is guarded by Lebanon’s Brittany Janelle Denson during their FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division B final match in Amman on Saturday (Photo courtesy of fiba.com)

 

AMMAN — Jordan took on Lebanon in the final of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 (Division B) Saturday evening, in a tournament that will go down in memory for the hosts regardless of final results.

Lebanon beat Jordan 80-40 in the final match of the tournament, and took first place in Division B. They were thus promoted to Division A for the 2023 tournament, replacing India which finished last in Division A.

In the third place match, Indonesia beat Kazakhstan 79-55. In an earlier game, Syria beat Iran 63-58 to take fifth place as the latter finished last.

The fact that Jordan made it to the final, after the national team was absent from Asian competitions since 1995, was an achievement in itself.

The team’s performance in the first round recharged the game for fans and former players. Jordan beat Indonesia and Kazakhstan to top Group B on their way to the semis and beat Kazakhstan 61-56 in a hard fought semifinal. They thus advanced to play the final against Lebanon which also had to put up a big effort in their win over agile Indonesia 76-62 in the other semifinal.

Jordan’s coach Faisal Nsour commended his squad’s efforts, who regrouped around 6 weeks ago and were boosted with the pro player who perfectly fit the team. Nsour described the WNBA’s Natasha Emily Cloud’s performance as “a team player who knows what needs to be done, to score, defend and win.” And that was a perfect description of Cloud’s performance, especially in the semifinal when she carried the team, as key teammates were held down by the Kazakh squad scoring 25 points and had 10 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

“I am a player that even when I am home and I am playing for the Washington Mystics, my job is to be a facilitator first, but also knowing I can score if I need to. That is my job here with Jordan too, “ Cloud was quoted on fiba.com as saying.

Most observers initially thought Jordan would finish in 5-6th positions. Advancing to the final and meeting Lebanon, playing in their 5th Women’s Asia Cup, was not contemplated.

However, Jordan, scored three consecutive wins on its way to the final led by Washington Mystics player Cloud and Maria Al Hinn, combining with Rasha Abdo and Zara Najjar, to give fans a memorable tournament. 

In the first stage, the top team from each group automatically moved to the semis: Jordan topped Group B after the two wins 76-64 over Indonesia and 72-51 over Kazakhstan while Lebanon, topped Group A after overcoming Iran 66-64 and Syria 83-63. 

The second and third in each group played a knockout round: Kazakhstan beat Syria 87-69 while Indonesia beat Iran 76-68. The winners advanced to play the group leaders in the semis, The losers played for last two spots.

Missing the event were Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Singapore.

Jordan was back to the competition after an absence of 26 years when the squad first took part in Shizuoka, Japan in 1995. That historic participation was the Kingdom’s first ever Asian appearance for a women’s sports team. Jordan then won one match, beating Indonesia 58-55, and lost to Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Malaysia to finish 11th.

The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup is an international basketball tournament which takes place every two years for national teams from FIBA Asia region, with teams classified to two divisions: FIBA Women’s Asia Cup (Division A) was recently held in Amman with the top four teams qualifying to the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia. A major tournament with leading teams from the continent participating, the tournament marked the first time the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 Division A is held in an Arab country.

Reigning titleholders Japan made it past China in the final of the 29th edition of the tournament. Australia scored a major upset over South Korea in the battle for third place. New Zealand took 5th spot after beating Chinese Taipei and the Philippines secured 7th spot after narrowly overcoming India. The latter was relegated to Division B of the 2023 FIBA Asia Cup after putting up a big fight for their spot in Division A.

The same eight teams from the last Division A edition had qualified to this years’ tournament, listed by their final position. Division B was not held in 2019.

In addition to the Women’s Asia Cup Divisions A & B, Jordan will again host the FIBA Asia U-18 Championship for Women in 2022, which qualifies the winners to the FIBA U-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.

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