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Orthodoxi play for basketball title

By Aline Bannayan - Feb 15,2015 - Last updated at Feb 15,2015

AMMAN — Orthodoxi play Ittihad in their third final play-offs match on Monday with a win securing them the title of the Premier Basketball League.

Orthodoxi lead Ittihad 3-1 and need one more win to take home the title. They beat Ittihad once in Round 2 and twice in the play-offs, 79-69 and 71-69.

Ittihad beat Orthodoxi once in Round 2 and have had closely contested matches, but their task seems uphill as they would need to win three consecutive matches to clinch the series. 

Orthodoxi last won the title in 2011 ending a 10-year drought to take home their record 22nd League title when they beat titleholders ASU. 

Riyadi have secured third place this year following ASU’s withdrew from the competition after they were in a three-way fight for the title with Orthodoxi and Ittihad. However, a disputed call in their Round 2 match against Orthodoxi in the final minutes with Orthodoxi leading 73-69 prompted head coach Murad Barakat to again gain a technical foul for his unsportsmanlike gesture leading his team to withdraw from the match.

ASU later announced they would suspend the basketball team and release all players, a move that has drawn criticism from observers as well as the governing body — the Jordan Basketball Federation (JBF).

According to JBF regulations, the team’s continued absence would mean the competition rules would be applied, which includes fines and relegation to Division 1.

ASU won the season’s first basketball competition when they beat Ittihad for the Jordan Cup title. The knockout competition saw Ittihad oust Riyadi 78-77 in the semis as ASU ousted Orthodoxi 92-65.

Last season, ASU beat Ittihad to win the League for the second consecutive time, while Riyadi won 3rd place after beating Kulieh. Orthodoxi finished 5th.

Established in 2007, ASU were crowned First Division champ in 2007 and were promoted to the Premier Basketball League in the 2008/09 season finishing runner-up. The team won the League four times. ASU finished fourth at the 21st Asian Champions Cup and were 3rd at the 22nd Arab Clubs Basketball Championship in 2009 when Zain conceded their Arab title. Last year, ASU finished third in the West Asian Clubs competition and were set to represent Jordan in the 8th edition of the event in March. The national team won the West Asian Championship in May and many ASU players are in the line-up.

At the other end of the standings, Jalil took the top position in the bottom four who played a separate round to decide the two teams to be relegated. Jalil beat Ghazzet Hashem 100-93 (81-81) in overtime and settled for 5th place while Ghazzet Hashem finished 6th leaving Nashama and Awdeh to be relegated. Nashama will be back in the League if ASU are relegated.

The Premier Basketball League which started in 1952 has had 58 editions with eight teams crowned champion. It was cancelled in three seasons and discontinued once. Orthodoxi have won 22 times, Ahli 21, Zain-Fastlink six times, ASU four times, Jazira-Aramex twice, Urdun, Watany and the Electricity Co. once each.

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