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West Asian Basketball Championship tips off

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 28,2017 - Last updated at Jan 28,2017

AMMAN — Jordan hosts the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) Championship with an opening match against Syria on Sunday.

The Kingdom is joined by Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Iran in the six-team tournament hosted at Fuheis Club. The points system will decide the zone champion and the top four will qualify to the 29th Asia Cup, to be held in Lebanon in August.

Jordan first won the West Asia title in 2002. 

In 2016, Jordan beat Lebanon 83-82 to clinch second place at the WABA Championship and advanced alongside Iran and Iraq to the FIBA Asia Challenge, where they finished third.

In 2014, 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 where China, as well as defending FIBA Asia Championship title-holders Iran, had automatically qualified. The competition was previously known as the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup between 2004 and 2010, and as the FIBA Asia Cup from 2012 to 2014. The champion was given an automatic berth to the following year’s FIBA Asia Championship. Qatar were champs in 2004, Jordan in 2008, Lebanon in 2010 and Iran in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

In 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 to qualify directly 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. 

Starting with 2017, the Asian Championships and the FIBA Oceania Championship will merge into one tournament to be known as the FIBA Asia Cup. It will be 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. During the FIBA Asia Central Board meeting in 2016, it was decided that the event is the first step in the process of identifying the qualifiers for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup (the new name of the Asian Championship), the first ever Continental Cup played jointly by teams from Asia and Oceania.

Although Jordan reached the World Championship in 2010, official 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.

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