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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 15/09/2011

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(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The national basketball team plays Syria on Thursday in their first match at the 26th Asian Championship which tips off in Wuhan, China, September 15-25.

Jordan will play Japan, Indonesia and Syria in Group C with the winner directly qualifying to the 2012 London Olympics.

Malaysia, South Korea, Lebanon and India make up Group A, Taiwan, Iran, Qatar and Uzbekistan are in Group B, while Philippines, the UAE, Bahrain and China play in Group D.

It will be Jordan's 12th time at the event since first taking part in 1983. Their best finish was in 2009 when they beat Lebanon in the third place match at the 25th FIBA Asia Championship and qualified to the 2010 World Basketball Championship in Turkey.

Playing at the World Championship was a dream that long eluded the Kingdom's senior teams in team sports. Jordan's youth basketball team reached the World Championship in 1995.

This edition, Jordan is again tipped for an advanced standing, and despite injury worries which kept away stars like Ayman Dueis and Mousa Awadi, the team is determined to make a difference.

"I was hoping to be with my teammates, but injury and surgery prevented me. I am confident they will achieve their goals. I hope I can join them in the next stage,'' Dueis told Al Ghad daily.

Team captain Zeid Alkhas has postponed his decision to quit international duty believing that Jordan stood a chance to qualify to the 2012 Olympics just as they had reached the World Championship in 2010.

In an interview with Al Ghad daily head coach Tab Baldwin noted the task ahead was not easy but stressed that ''the whole team would not spare any effort to best represent Jordan at the upcoming Asian event''.

Jordan played a three-nation tourney at a training camp in the Philippines - beating Qatar 73-67 and losing to the hosts 80-71. The camp was the final stop in a busy summer during which they played two friendly tournaments in the Ukraine and Belarus and won the King Abdullah II Cup. Jordan finished at a disappointing 6th place at the 33rd William Jones Tournament, failing to make it to the semis of the event they won in 2007 and 2008.

Jordan qualified to the Asian Championship after they finished second at the West Asian Basketball Association (WABA) Championship behind Iran - joining Syria as well as Lebanon.

The Kingdom's achievements in the past few years put them at the forefront of Asian teams: They finished fourth at the last Asian Games in Doha in 2006 and had a memorable year in 2007, winning the King Abdullah Cup and becoming the first Arab team to win the William Jones Cup. The squad later won the 17th Arab Basketball Championship for the first time and finished runner-up to Egypt at the Pan-Arab Games.

The final line-up includes Osama Doughlas, Wisam Sous, Mahmoud Abdeen, Enver Soubzoukov, Rasheim Wright, Khaldoun Abu Ruqaya, Zeid Abbas, Zeid Alkhas, Islam Abbas, Ali Jamal, Abdullah Abu Qoura and Mohammad Shaher.

The FIBA Asian Championship takes place every two years and is the Asian qualifying tournament for both the FIBA World Championship and the Olympic basketball tournament. So far, only Qatar (1997) and Saudi Arabia (2005) have hosted the event among Arab countries. China is a record 14-time winner of the Asian Championship. The Philippines won five times and Iran, South Korea and Japan twice each.

As far as Arab teams, Jordan was third in 2009, Saudi Arabia finished third in 1999, Lebanon came second in 2001 and qualified to the 2002 World Championship. Lebanon also finished runner-up twice. Qatar finished third in 2003 and 2005, and moved to the 2006 World Championship in Japan with then champs China.


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