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Jordan hosts King’s Cup basketball ahead of FIBA World Cup

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 03,2023 - Last updated at Aug 03,2023

AMMAN — Jordan’s national basketball team hosts the 11th King Abdullah Cup (The King’s Cup) this weekend as part of their final countdown ahead of the FIBA World Cup 2023 set to be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia as of August 25.

Jordan is slated to face Portugal on August 4, Angola on August 5 and Mexico on August 7 before leaving home to play Georgia, Iran, Montenegro from August 12-14, and facing China, South Sudan and Venezuela from August 18-22 ahead of the World Cup.

Jordan just concluded two training camps playing friendlies in Portugal where it beat the Ivory Coast, and lost to the Czech Republic and hosts Portugal in close matches. They also played in Lithuania where they lost three matches to the hosts.

During their World Cup countdown, Jordan set out to play around 15 high level matches in different continents. They have lost nine and won five so far. They earlier concluded a training camp in Canada following matches in Greece and Lithuania in June. 

Jordan qualified to the World Cup finals for the second consecutive and third overall time. The squad was drawn in Group C and is set to meet Greece on August 26, before facing New Zealand on August 28 and the United States on August 30 in matches set for Manila, the Philippines. Jordan has a tough group with a tough contender like Greece, while the US, champs in 2010 and 2014, were 7th at the last World Cup won by Spain.

Eight nations from Asia and Oceania join the 32-country FIBA World Cup 2023 field that will take place from August 25 to September 10. 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. 

Representing Asia, Jordan joins the Philippines, Japan, Iran, New Zealand, Australia, Lebanon and China. “We have booked a place among the top 32 teams in the world. We have a tough group and it will not be an easy task, but we aim to work hard throughout,” coach Wisam Al Sous told the local media.

Sous, a star of the 2010 World Cup qualifying team has inspired his lineup to jump back from inconsistent results in Round 1 to a winning spirit of a team that finished 4th at the FIBA Asia Cup last summer. The coach is still under fire for his choice of players, although the team rebounded after each slump during the qualifying process.

The basketball squad was the first and only Jordanian team to reach a World Cup in a team sport alongside the junior men’s team in 1995. Jordan has now reached the FIBA Basketball World Cup — the world’s premier basketball competition three times — in 2010, 2019 and 2023. At the 2010 World Cup Jordan finished 23rd among 24 countries after losing five matches. In 2019, Jordan managed a win over Senegal to finish 28th among 32 teams.

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.

Jordan now has Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as the naturalised pro replacing Dar Tucker who led Jordan in the qualifies together with Ahmad Dweiri, who led Fenerbahce Club to the Turkish League crown last year. Freddy Ibrahim, has become another household name for fans, after he secured Jordan’s spot in the last 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 stunned three-time champs Iran in the quarters and moved to the semis for the first time since 2011, where they faced three-time silver medallist Lebanon who ousted record 16-time champs China, In the semis, 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, 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 Tournamen, but lost to Puerto Rico as well as Greece and were eliminated. 

Jordan’s best showing at the FIBA Asia Cup (previously named FIBA Asia Championship) was third in 2009 and runner-up in 2011, and fourth in 2022.

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