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Jordan takes on China in FIBA Asian qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Feb 21,2019 - Last updated at Feb 21,2019

AMMAN — Jordan hosts China on Friday and New Zealand on Sunday in their final two matches in Round 2 Asian Group E qualifiers for the FIBA World Cup 2019.

Jordan must win to keep chances alive for a berth in the World Cup to be able to edge Lebanon into the group’s third- or best fourth-placed team. 

The squad’s final matches put them in a tough spot as they lost 86-75 to South Korea and 96-69 to New Zealand when incoming coach Joe Stiebing faced the hurdle of an incomplete line-up since team leader Zeid Abbas sustained an injury, while the FIBA paperwork for naturalised players was not completed in time.

That followed previous Round 2 matches, in which Jordan lost 88-79 to China and 86-75 to South Korea. 

As the standings are now, Jordanian basketball fans are disappointed and apprehensive of qualification chances after the national team dropped to fifth behind New Zealand, South Korea, China and Lebanon. 

The team just returned from Dubai where they lost four matches in the friendly tourney followed by two losses in friendly matches against Iran.

Team captain Zeid Abbas was quoted by FIBA Basketball as saying the team needs fans to come out in full force and throw their all-out support behind the squad.

“Our fans give us big support and have been with us in every game. We have had full house for all home games, and we want our fans to believe in us and be there so we can do it together,” he added.

Seven teams (the top 3 teams from each group and the best 4th) in addition to host China will move to the FIBA World Cup finals set for August 31, which will include 32 teams.

Round 1 results, in which Jordan topped Group C after they beat India 102-88, Lebanon 87-83 and Syria 109-72 were carried over to Round 2.

In Group F, Australia booked their qualifying spot, followed in the standings by Iran, Japan, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Qatar. 

Fans were hopeful the Jordanian squad would return to of competitive form after discord among the governing body of the game ended with the resignation of the Jordan Basketball Federation Board and a transitional care-taking body of former players and marketing experts has taken over until a new board is elected.

Support for Jordan’s second most popular game is seen as below par by most observers, leading to a decline in the game locally and less competitive advantage on the regional scene although the basketball squad was the only Jordanian team to actually reach a World Championship in a team sport in 2010 alongside the Junior team in 1995.

Jordan played the 2010 World Cup against Serbia, Germany, Argentina, Australia and Angola, but finished winless at 23rd at the World Cup.

Apart from the 2010 milestone, Jordan’s national basketball team won the West Asia title in 2002 and repeated it in 2014, when Jordan managed to win the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) title for the second time in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams.

In 2017, Jordan took third place in WABA as Lebanon were crowned champs. The top four qualifiers then played at the 29th FIBA Asia Cup, Jordan finishing eighth.

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