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Jordan eyes FIBA Asia Cup final

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

AMMAN — Jordan’s national basketball team plays Lebanon on Saturday in the semifinals of the FIBA Asia Cup, currently under way in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Jordan stunned three-time champs Iran 91-76 in the quarter-finals beating them for their first win since 2011, to seal victory in the final 10 minutes by keeping Iran scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.

Jordan’s naturalised pro Dar Tucker scored 29 points in the game as Ahmad Al Dweiri continued his impressive run through the Asia Cup with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Freddy Ibrahim continued to play with confidence, netting in 23 points as Jordan ousted Iran who will miss the semis for the second time since 2007.

The win advanced Jordan to the semis for the first time since 2011, to face Lebanon who ousted record 16-time champs China, 72-69 as Wa’el Arakji led Lebanon with 32 points. Aside from being the first ever Asia Cup win for Lebanon over China, it is also the first time for Lebanon making the semis since 2009.

It is Jordan’s 16th time at the FIBA Asia Cup, previously called FIBA Asia Championship, 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, but lost the chance of qualifying to the 2012 Olympic Games after losing the final 70-69 to China. Jordan then played the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) but lost to Puerto Rico and Greece and were eliminated. 

In Round 1, Group A matches, Jordan lost 78-60 to titleholders Australia, before beating hosts Indonesia 74-65 and Saudi Arabia 74-64. Jordan made it to the quarters after beating Chinese Taipei 97-96 on a dramatic buzzer-beater by Freddy Ibrahim’s half court three-pointer to seal their win even after they were 9 points down with just under one minute left at 91-82 and 95-91 with 9 seconds left. 

Ibrahim’s winning shot will certainly go down in Jordan’s basketball memory, but cannot also overshadow the gigantic effort from Dar Tucker who scored 36 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while the towering Dweiri had an impressive game with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. 

Now the squad, led by head coach Wisam Al Sous, a star of the 2010 World Cup qualifying squad, need to go past three-time silver medalist Lebanon to make it to their second final.

As the tournament heads into a rest day on Friday before Saturday’s semifinals, New Zealand beat South Korea 88-78 in Thursday’s quarters while titleholders Australia beat Japan 99-85 to reach the semis.

Last month, Jordan played Window 3 of Asian qualifiers for FIBA’s 2023 World Cup, losing 89-70 to Lebanon in an under par performance before they beat Indonesia 77-52. After national sides played home and away games across three windows, Jordan finished second after Lebanon in Group C after they beat Saudi 68-61 and lost 72-64 in Window 1. In Window 2, Jordan beat Lebanon 74-63 and Indonesia 94-64.

Twelve teams advanced to Round 2, which will also have three windows running up to February 2023. Jordan will now play Round 2, joining New Zealand, Lebanon, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and India in Group E, while Group F includes Australia, Kazakhstan, China, Iran, Japan and Bahrain. The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will take place from August 25 to September 10, 2023 with seven nations from Asia and Oceania qualifying for the 32 country field. As event hosts, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines automatically qualify. Asia was last on the World Cup podium back in 1954 when the Philippines placed third.

Jordan previously reached the FIBA Basketball 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.

The tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

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