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Jordan Basketball League final four tips off

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 06,2018 - Last updated at Dec 06,2018

AMMAN — The Jordan Basketball League resumes on the weekend after a break that allowed for the national team’s qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

After a local season that seemed to revive old memories and competitive spirit in the Kingdom’s second most popular sport, Jordanian basketball fans were disappointed after the national team dropped to fifth in the standings behind New Zealand, South Korea, Lebanon and China following defeats to South Korea (86-75) and New Zealand (96-69). The qualifiers will resume on February 22 when Jordan plays China and New Zealand on February 25. 

In previous Round 2 matches, Jordan lost 88-79 to China and 86-75 to South Korea. 

In Round 1, Jordan topped Group C after it beat India 102-88, Lebanon 87-83 and Syria 109-72, and Round 1 results were carried over to Round 2 in which 7 teams (the top three teams from each group and the best 4th ) in addition to the host China will move to the FIBA World Cup finals set for August 31 which will include 32 teams.

Therefore, basketball action now returns home to the league’s final four as Orthodoxi play Kufr Youba, while Wihdat play Ahli in the best-of-three play-offs to decide the finalists.

There were many close matches early in the season but titleholders Riyadi and Jazira failed to make it to the final four after an inconsistent season. Riyadi, champions for the past two seasons, did not have the winning edge, however, Ahli, who won the Jordan Cup earlier this year, advanced thanks to the combined determined efforts of the team led by Zeid Abbas and coach Zeid Alkhas, who has now been replaced by veteran club player Imad Saeed. 

In an effort to revive the game which was suffering from administrative snags, low funding, clubs pulling out of the competition as well as fan disenchantment, the Jordan Basketball Federation’s temporary board held the Jordan Cup earlier this year and tried to technically support teams getting around 21 clubs competing again. The board even held Jordan’s first player draft and national team stars dispersed to play among the teams and got the flavour back into the competition. Following the Jordan Cup, won by Ahli, the top six headed into the Premier Division, the rest into the First and Second divisions.

In 2015/16  season, Riyadi were crowned league champs — a title which had eluded them for 20 years — when they beat titleholders Orthodoxi. Riyadi had last won the league in 1997 by then Jazira-Aramex team (whose players later on formed Riyadi’s line-up). Riyadi won the League again in 2016/17.

Teams like former league and cup champs Applied Science University, Ittihad, and Wihdat had pulled out of the competition over differences with the Jordan Basketball Federation and players dispersed over the rest of clubs. Orthodoxi, who won their record 23rd league title in the 2014/15 season, won the Jordan Cup in 2016. 

The league, which started in 1952, has had 59 editions with eight teams crowned champion. It was cancelled in three seasons and discontinued once. Orthodoxi have won 23 times, Ahli 21, Zain (Fastlink) six times, ASU four times, Riyadi and Jazira-Aramex twice each, while, Urdun, Watany and the Electricity Co. won once each.

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