Jordan’s national basketball squad returned home on Wednesday after concluding participation at the FIBA World Cup 2019 — the world’s premier basketball competition currently under way in China.
In placement matches deciding positions 17-32, Jordan beat Senegal 79-77 in their final match scoring the Kingdom’s first win in a team sport on the international level.
The team had earlier lost to Canada 126-71 and thus finished 28th overall. In Round 1, Jordan lost to the Dominican Republic in the final minutes of the match 80-76. It had two tough games losing against France 103-64 and then to Germany 96-62 in Group G matches.
After the Kingdom first played at the FIBA World Cup in 2010, this was the second time at the tournament which acts as a qualifier to the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Tunisia was the only other Arab teams 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 advancing on to Round 2.
The quarter-finals now include Argentina against Serbia, Poland versus Spain, US taking on France and Australia playing the Czech Republic. Iran and Japan qualified to the Olympics from Asia with two invitation wild cards remaining.
Jordan’s journey to the World Cup started with Round 1 qualifiers in which they topped Group C after they beat India, Lebanon and Syria. In Round 2 qualifiers, Jordan beat expectations and finished third in Group E behind New Zealand and South Korea as China came in fourth and edged Lebanon into the group’s best 4th place team to make it to the World Cup finals.
Observers agree the Jordan Basketball Federation and the squad did their best within limited resources, but their competitive edge could not be up to par with the level needed to compete at the World Cup.
Although social media was split between praise for the team’s effort or underestimating its participation, objective observers have pointed out that merely reaching the World Cup and playing against the world’s leading teams and star studded line-ups will boost the team’s overall presence internationally and competitive experience of Jordan’s second most popular game.
Random funding efforts which hamper long term planning and a limited league competition are seen as the main reasons for 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.
At the 2010 World Cup, Jordan played against Serbia, Germany, Argentina, Australia and Angola. The team was resilient but finished winless at 23rd.
At the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, Jordan 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 was eliminated.
Regionally, Jordan’s basketball team won the West Asian Basketball Association title in 2002 and repeated it in 2014 in the absence of both the Lebanese and senior Iranian teams.
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