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Jordan plays Iran for spot in women’s FIBA Asia Cup final

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 17,2023 - Last updated at Aug 17,2023

AMMAN — Jordan’s senior women’s basketball squad plays Iran on Friday in the semifinals of the Women’s FIBA Asia Cup in the battle for the sole spot promoting the winner to Division A in 2025.

Playing at the competition currently underway in Bangkok, Thailand, Jordan is in their second Division B final after scoring three consecutive wins to top Group B. They beatKazakhstan 74-65 as the Kingdom’s naturalised pro Aisha-Marie Sheppard scored 38 points, with six three-pointers and eight assists. It was a record total in a women’s Asia Cup game by a player since 2007, regardless of division. Earlier, Jordanbeat hosts Thailand 74-71 and Sri Lanka 82-41. 

Indonesia topped Group A which includes, Iran, Malaysia and Mongolia. Group leaders automatically moved to the semis while the second and third from the groups played for a spot in the semis. 

On Thursday, the battle for semifinal spots saw Iran beat Kazakhstan 54-41 to advance to face Jordan while Thailand beat Malaysia 67-58 to advance and play Indonesia. Mongolia beat Sri Lanka 80-41 to take 7th place.

In the absence of the Lebanese team who retained their spot in Division A this year, Jordan has a chance to grab the qualifying spot from Division B. Their current competition results and placementa far cry from earlier participations, when team players and managers themselves fundraised for their travel to Shizuoka, Japan in 1995, in Jordan’s first participation 28 years ago where the team won one match.

In 2021, Jordan hosted the Asia Cup Divisions A & B and with Natasha Cloud, the squad’s first ever naturalised player on the lineup, they finished second after Lebanon in Division B after losing by double score, marking the first time the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2021 Division A was held in an Arab country. Lebanon was promoted to Division A for the 2023 tournament in which they finished 7thto maintain their spot as China took first place.

Jordan has a good chance of making to Division A this time. With Sheppard averaging 27 points per game, the trailblazing athlete who was on the lineup of the Las Vegas Aces alongside members of the USA national team, seems to have stolenthe hearts of fans in Bangkok. 

“For me, I’m always trying to inspire the next generation because that’s what I had growing up,” Sheppard toldfiba.basketball website.”I really do believe that we can come here and achieve the goals that we have set in place and I think it’s really important that we have this energy. It’s been good vibes going into the tournament and I think it will help us.”

All Jordan’s national teams have had a packed agenda this season. Jordan lately hosted the FIBA U-16 Women’s Asian Championship for the second consecutive edition and their third time at the event finishing 5th. In 2022, Jordan settled for 8th place whilein 2013 they finished 11th. 

The Philippines won Division B top spot and were promoted to Division A while Australia retained Division A title as the top four teams qualified for the FIBAU17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2024 in Mexico.

In the last FIBA U-18 Women’s Asian Championship in 2022, Jordan settled for 6th place. The top team in the tournament, Australia, moved to Division A. Jordan finished 8th in 1996, and were 11th in 2014.

Jordan’s U-16 boys team will also play the 7th  FIBA U-16 Asian Championship after they last participated and 2013 when they finished 10th and 2009 when it finished 8th.

The spotlight this year ison the senior men’s national basketball team playing at theFIBA World Cup 2023 set to be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia as of August 25.

Jordan qualified to the World Cup finals for the second consecutive and third overall time. The squad joins the 32-country FIBA World Cup 2023 field playing in Group C where they areset to meet Greece on August 26, before facing New Zealand on August 28 and 2010 and 2014 champs United States on August 30 in matches set for Manila, the Philippines. 

Basketball has been the 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 Senegalto finish 28th among 32 teams.

Last year, Jordan’s qualifying journey included reaching the FIBA Asia Cup semis for the second time, eventually settling for fourth place. In 2011, 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 were eliminated. 

So far, Jordan’s best showing at the FIBA Asia Cup (previously named FIBA Asia Championship) was third in 2009, runner-up in 2011 and fourth in 2022.

 

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