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Jordan plays at Basketball World Cup for second time

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 31,2019 - Last updated at Aug 31,2019

AMMAN — Jordan begins its FIBA World Cup 2019 journey when it plays Dominican Republic on Sunday, before playing France on September 3 and Germany on September 5 in Group G matches of the world’s premier basketball competition currently under way in China.

After Jordan first played at the FIBA World Cup in 2010, this will be the second time for Jordan at the event which acts as a qualifying tournament to the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Tunisia is the only other Arab team among the qualifying teams to the World Cup finals, which ends on September 15 and includes 32 teams playing in eight groups with the top two from each group moving on to Round 2.

As they started their qualifying journey, Jordan overcame obstacles of having a new coach Joe Stiebing trying to regroup an incomplete line-up, team leader Zeid Abbas sustaining injury, while naturalised players’ FIBA papers were not completed in time. However, in Round 1, Jordan topped Group C after they beat India, Lebanon and Syria.

In Round 2, Jordan qualified after finishing third in Group E qualifiers behind New Zealand, South Korea as China came in fourth and edged Lebanon into the group’s best 4th place team. 

The other Asian Group saw Australia, Japan, Iran and the Philippines qualifying.

Over the past few years, support for Jordan’s second most popular game is seen as below par by most observers, leading to a decline in the game locally and less competitive advantage on the regional scene, although the basketball squad was the only Jordanian team to actually reach a World Cup in a team sport in 2010 alongside the Junior team in 1995.

Fans are again hopeful the Jordanian squad would return to competitive form after discord among the governing body of the game ended with the resignation of the Jordan Basketball Federation Board and a transitional care-taking body of former players and marketing experts taking over until a new board is elected. The same was the case during the 2010 World Cup, where Jordan played against Serbia, Germany, Argentina, Australia and Angola. The team was resilient but finished winless at 23rd.

Apart from the 2010 milestone, Jordan’s basketball team won the West Asia title in 2002 and repeated it in 2014, when Jordan managed to win the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) title for the second time in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams.

In 2017, Jordan took third place in WABA as Lebanon were crowned champs. The top four qualifiers then played at the 29th FIBA Asia Cup where Jordan finished at a disappointing 8th place as Australia won the title, Iran came second and South Korea third.

In WABA 2010, Jordan finished second behind Iran and qualified to the 26th FIBA Asia Championship where, for the first time in the country’s history, Jordan reached the final but lost the chance qualify to the 2012 Olympic Games after losing 70-69 to China. Jordan then played at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Men, but lost to Puerto Rico and Greece and was eliminated. The OQT gave Asia’s second and third teams a chance to qualify to the London Games basketball event. 

As of 2017, the Asia Championships and the FIBA Oceania Championship merged into a one tournament known as the FIBA Asia Cup. It is now held every 4-years like the EuroBasket, AfroBasket and Americas Championship. The tournament determined the composition of the joint FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

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