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Jordan takes on South Korea in FIBA Asian qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 01,2018 - Last updated at Dec 01,2018

AMMAN — Jordan takes on South Korea on Sunday in their Round 2 Asian Group E qualifier for the FIBA World Cup 2019.

The national team lost 96-69 to New Zealand on Thursday and is now fifth in the group behind New Zealand, South Korea, Lebanon and China. Also on Sunday, Lebanon plays China and New Zealand plays Syria before Round 2 stops until February 22, 2019 when Jordan plays China and on February 25 plays New Zealand. In previous Round 2 matches, Jordan lost 88-79 to China and 86-75 to South Korea. 

Jordan’s task seems tough with incoming coach Joe Stiebing facing the hurdle of an incomplete line-up as team leader Zeid Abbas sustaining an injury in the games against New Zealand while naturalised players’ FIBA papers were not completed in time.

In Round 1, Jordan topped Group C after they beat India 102-88, Lebanon 87-83 and Syria 109-72. First Round results were carried over to Round 2, and out of 16 competing teams in Round 1, 12 teams (the top three teams from each group) moved to the Round 2 following which seven teams (the top three 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, 2019 which will include 32 teams.

Australia has qualified from Group F and are followed in the standings by Iran, the Philippines, Kazakhstan Japan 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 last year. 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.

Last year, Jordan took third place in the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) 2017 as Lebanon was crowned champs. The top four qualifiers then played at the 29th FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon where Jordan finished in disappointing 8th as Australia won the title, Iran came second and South Korea third.

Apart from the 2010 milestone, Jordan’s basketball team won the West Asia title in 2002 and again in 2014, when Jordan managed to win the title in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams.

In WABA 2010, 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 qualify to the 2012 Olympic Games after 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.

As of 2017, the Asia Championships and the FIBA Oceania Championship merged into one tournament — the FIBA Asia Cup, held every four-years like the EuroBasket, AfroBasket and Americas Championship. The tournament will determine the composition of the joint FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

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