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Ahli, Wihdat, Orthodoxi vie for Basketball League crown

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 26,2021 - Last updated at Dec 26,2021

AMMAN — The Jordan Basektball League tips off on Monday in a season rich in basketball achievements and clubs trying to  make the best of the return of fans to the stands.

Basketball is on a high note with national teams bringing the second most popular sport back to the forefront as fans filled the Prince Hamzah Arena to capacity in November when Jordan hosted the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021 (Division B) and finished second while the men's team advanced to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 to be played next year.

Ahli head into the league after winning the 20th edition of the Jordan Cup earlier this month. They clinched their fourth consecutive Cup with Wihdat coming in runner-up as Orthodoxi and Kufr Youba were eliminated. Other competing teams were Jalil and Jubeiha.

Last season, Ahli clinched the league for a record 24th time as Wihdat relinquished their title and settled for runner-up. Kufr Youba beat Jubeiha to take third place while 2019 runner-up Orthodoxi did not reach the final four. 

The league champs are on a roll. Now led by coach Sam Daghlas, they are back full force. After disbanding the team for over a decade, Ahli won the Jordan Cup in 2018, and have now held the title for the fourth year running. They have since also won the league title three times in the past four seasons after the title had eluded them since 1994. 

Wihdat were league champs in 2019 for the first time in their history after overcoming Orthodoxi. Led by coach Mu'tasem Salameh, they are eager for an advanced spot and are rivaling Orthodoxi who won their record 23rd league title in the 2014-15 season and last won the Jordan Cup in 2015.  Led by Zeid Abbas, they have a strong lineup and also have sights set on the seasons titles. 

Missing the event are Riyadi who in 2015-16 season,  were crowned league champs — a title which had eluded them for 20 years when they beat titleholders Orthodoxi. Riyadi had last won the league in 1997 by then Jazira-Aramex team (whose players later on formed Riyadi's lineup). Riyadi won the League again in 2016/17.

The Basketball League which started in 1952 has had eight teams crowned champion. It was cancelled in three seasons and discontinued once. Ahli have won 24 times, Orthodoxi 23, Zain (Fastlink) 6 times, ASU four times, Riyadi and Jazira-Aramex twice, while, Wihdat, Urdun, Watany and the Electricity Co. won once each.

Teams like former league and cup champs Applied Science University, Ittihad, and Zain have pulled out of the competition.

The Jordan Cup has seen Fastlink winning the most titles in four consecutive seasons 2003-04-05-06, before they played and won under Zain in 2008, Ahli won four times 2018-19-20-21, Riyadi won three times in 2002, 2011 and 2012, ASU in 2010, 2013 and 2014 and Orthodoxi in 2007 and 2015.

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