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Jordan eyes Basketball World Cup spot, improves in FIBA World Rankings

By Aline Bannayan - Nov 22,2022 - Last updated at Nov 22,2022

AMMAN — Jordan went up to 34th in the latest FIBA World Ranking following the end of Window 5 in Round 2 Asian basketball qualifiers for the FIBA World Cup 2023.

The Kingdom is now 5th in Asia and second among Arab teams after they beat New Zealand 92-75 and lost 74-66 to the Philippines in matches hosted in Amman last week as 12 teams are contesting the six remaining slots from the continent with the qualifiers concluding in February 2023.

Playing in Group E, which also includes Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Jordan so far beat India 80-64 and lost 100-72 to New Zealand as Round 2 kicked off in August. Group F includes Australia, Kazakhstan, China, Iran, Japan and Bahrain.  

Jordan coach Wisam Al Sous, a star of the 2010 World Cup qualifying squad, has inspired his lineup to jump back from inconsistent results in Round 1 to a  winning spirit as the team finished 4th at the FIBA Asia Cup. 

Sous told the media this week that in their first match against the Philippines “the fear of losing dominated the lineup more than the appetite for a win”. 

The coach came under fire during the qualifiers for his choice of players, but rebounded after each slump added: “We let the win slip away, it was a tough lesson from which we learnt and jumped back in the New Zealand match.”

In the last round of qualifiers salted for February 2023 Jordan will face India and the Philippines with one win needed to qualify to the World Cup for the third time.

Eight nations from Asia and Oceania will join the 32-country FIBA World Cup 2023 field that will take place from August 25 to September 10, 2023. Japan and the Philippines qualify as hosts while third host Indonesia did not make it to the FIBA Asia Cup quarters and failed to qualify.

Jordan’s previous best ranking was 28th in the world after they finished runner-up in the 2011 Asian Championship when they were 4th in Asia and second among Arab teams. 

Australia currently leads Asia’s top 10 rankings followed by Iran, New Zealand, China, Jordan, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Lebanon and Kazakhstan. 

On the world scene, Spain leads rankings followed by the US, Australia, Argentina, France, Serbia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Greece, and Italy.

Jordan previously reached the FIBA World Cup in 2010 and 2019, becoming the first and only Jordanian team to actually reach a World Cup in a team sport alongside the junior men’s team in 1995. Asia was last on the World Cup podium back in 1954 when the Philippines placed third.

The tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2024 Summer Olympics, where the top two teams from each of the Americas and Europe, and the top team from each of Africa, Asia and Oceania, will qualify alongside the tournament’s host France.

In Round 1 of the qualifiers, Jordan finished second after Lebanon in Group C.  In window 3, Jordan lost 89-70 to Lebanon before they beat Indonesia 77-52. In Window 2, Jordan beat Lebanon 74-63 and Indonesia 94-64 and in Window 1, they beat Saudi 68-61 and lost 72-64.

Jordan is powered by naturalised pro Dar Tucker and the towering Ahmad Dweiri, who led Fenerbahce Club to the Turkish League crown last season. Dweiri, who this season plays for Bursaspor Club, has carried the team together with Tucker as they combined with Freddy Ibrahim, who secured Jordan’s spot in the FIBA Asia Cup quarters on a dramatic half court three-pointer buzzer-beater to beat Chinese Taipei 97-96 — a result now etched in Jordan’s basketball memory, as Jordan won after being nine points down with just under one minute left.

The Kingdom then stunned three-time champs Iran 91-76 in the quarters and moved to the semis for the first time since 2011, where they faced three-time silver medalist Lebanon who ousted record 16-time champs China.  In the semis, injuries and a technical foul cost them a win, as Jordan handed the match to Lebanon 86-85, and settled for fourth place after losing to New Zealand as Australia beat Lebanon to win the title.

It was Jordan’s 16th time at the FIBA Asia Cup with the Kingdom’s best performance at the event placing third in 2009 and runner-up in 2011 when they reached the final for the first time in the country’s history.


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