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Jordan’s national basketball team continues World Cup preparation agenda

By Aline Bannayan - Jul 20,2023 - Last updated at Jul 20,2023

AMMAN — Jordan’s national basketball team has started a training camp in Lithuania amid preparations for the FIBA World Cup 2023 set to be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia as of August 25.

The team will play three matches in Lithuania this week before leaving for another tourney in Portugal grouping the Ivory Coast, the Czech Republic and hosts Portugal July 26-30.

Jordan qualified to the World Cup finals for the second consecutive and third overall time after a long qualifying journey that had its ups and downs. However, a precious 91-90 win over the Philippines and reversing an earlier loss to New Zealand by winning 92-75 moved Jordan to the World Cup.

At the World Cup, Jordan 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.

“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 and be part of the building of a new generation for the national basketball squad,” coach Wisam Al Sous told the 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, who has come under fire during the qualifiers for his choice of players, rebounded after each slump and hopes the team will give it all it’s got in the finals. During the qualifiers Sous told the media “the fear of losing dominated the lineup more than the appetite for a win”.

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, 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. 

Representing Asia, Jordan joins the Philippines, Japan, Iran, New Zealand, Australia, Lebanon and China.

On its way to the World Cup, Jordan will play around 15 high level matches in different continents. They recently concluded a training camp in Canada following matches in Greece and Lithuania in June. They are slated to face Mexico, Portugal and Angola at the 11th King Abdullah Cup Aug 1-10, before playing Georgia, Iran, Montenegro August 11-14, and facing China, South Sudan and Venezuela August 18-22 ahead of the finals.

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.

In the qualifiers, Jordan was powered by naturalised pro Dar Tucker,who will not play at the World Cup, and the towering Ahmad Dweiri, who led Fenerbahce Club to the Turkish League crown last season. 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 91-76 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 Tournament, but lost to Puerto Rico and 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. In 2022, Jordan finished fourth.

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