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Jordan hosts Lebanon in FIBA Asian qualifiers for 2019 World Cup

By Aline Bannayan - Nov 25,2017 - Last updated at Nov 25,2017

AMMAN — Jordan hosts Lebanon at 7pm on Sunday in its second match at the Asian Group C qualifiers for the FIBA Basketball 2019World Cup.

Jordan beat Syria 109-72 and Lebanon beat India 107-72 on the opening day of matches. Jordan’s third match will be against India in February 2018. Out of 16 competing teams 12 teams (the top three teams from each group) will move to the second round following which seven teams (the top three teams from each group and the best 4th) in addition to a host China will move to the World Cup set for August 31, 2019 which will include 32 teams.

The Jordanian squad is striving to get into competitive form after a rough year which saw the team having had its share of ups and downs together with internal strife among the governing body of the game. That ended with the resignation of the Jordan Basketball Federation Board earlier this month and a transitional care-taking body of former players and marketing experts taking over until a new board is elected within the coming year.

Fans pin their hopes that the qualifying group will provide Jordan the chance to move to the FIBA Basketball World Cup finals. Earlier this year, Jordan took third place in the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) as Lebanon was the crowned champ. The top four qualifiers then played at the 29th FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon where Jordan finished at a disappointing 8th place as Australia won the title, Iran came second and South Korea third.

The Asia Cup will no longer be held under a two-year cycle. As of 2017, the Asia Championships and the FIBA Oceania Championship merged into a one tournament to be known as the FIBA Asia Cup. It will now be held every four-years like the EuroBasket, AfroBasket and Americas Championship. The tournament will determine the composition of the joint FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Although Jordan reached the World Championship in 2010 — and was the only Jordanian team to actually reach a world championship in a team sport alongside the junior team in 1995 — official 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.

A look back at Jordan’s basketball record in the past decade saw Jordan first winning the West Asia title in 2002. That was only repeated in 2014, when Jordan managed to win the WABA title for the second time in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams and represented the West Asia zone at the 5th FIBA Asia Cup (previously known as the FIBA Asia Stankovicć Cup between 2004 and 2010 and FIBA Asia Cup from 2012 to 2014). China, as well defending FIBA Asia Championship titleholders Iran had automatically qualified. The champion was given an automatic berth to the following year’s FIBA Asia Championship. Qatar were Stankovicć Cup/Asia Cup champs in 2004, Jordan in 2008, Lebanon in 2010 and Iran in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

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 the final 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.

In 2016, Jordan beat Lebanon to clinch second place at the WABA to advance alongside Iran and Iraq to the FIBA Asia Challenge where they finished third.

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