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Jordan Basketball League heads to semifinal play-offs

By Aline Bannayan - Mar 28,2022 - Last updated at Mar 28,2022

AMMAN — The Jordan Basketball League heads into the decisive stages when the semifinal play-offs (Final Four) tips off on Tuesday.

Following two stages of closely contested matches, Wihdat lead the standings at the end of Round 2, followed by Orthodoxi, Ahli and Jubeiha. Now, the semifinal play-offs require a different focus and strategy as Wihdat play Jubeiha while Orthodoxi meet Ahli in the best-of-three contest following which winners will advance to the best-of-five finals series and play for the title. 

The league champ will get JD40,000, runner-up 25,000, third place 20,000 and fourth place JD15,000. Kufr Youba and Jalil dropped out in Round 1.

It is expected to be a tightly contested semifinal series as Wihdat tied Orthodoxi but led in overall points. Wihdat beat Orthodoxi 75-66 before losing 70-61 to finish as best overall team. Orthodoxi lost to Ahli 84-83 before defeating them 84-70 while they lost to Jubeiha 92-90. Ahli’s team had inconsistent results and suffered a string of injures including to their pro player. Ahli lost to Wihdat 91-64 and 81-53.

Ahli won the 20th edition of the Jordan Cup earlier in the season to grab their fourth consecutive Cup with Wihdat coming in runner-up as Orthodoxi and Kufr Youba were eliminated. Jalil and Jubeiha were knocked out.

In the 2020 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. 

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’s lineup led by veteran Zeid Abbas, who won their record 23rd league title in the 2014-15 season and last won the Jordan Cup in 2015. 

Ahli are led by coach Sam Daghlas. 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. 

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 line-up). 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) six times, ASU four times, Riyadi and Jazira-Aramex twice each, 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.

The basketball season started on a high note after national teams brought back the second most popular sport to the forefront as the men’s team advanced to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 to be played next year while 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. The men’s team also lead Group C in Asian qualifiers for Basketball’s World Cup after they beat Indonesia and Lebanon in qualifying matches in February.

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