BEIRUT (Lebanon) – We’re getting closer and closer to the fifth window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers. Even through we’re near the conclusion of the Qualifiers, there’s still plenty to be excited about for the upcoming games ahead.
Whether it’s an Asian Qualifiers rematch with intense history or a heavyweight matchup between Asia basketball powerhouses, there’s a handful of games to mark on your calendars during this window.
Here are four games you do not want to miss in Window 5 of the Asian Qualifiers:
Jordan vs Philippines
10 November – 19:00 (GMT +3)
Prince Hamza Hall, Amman
Right off the bat to start the window, the fans will be entertained with a cracking matchup between these two Asia basketball powerhouses. The two teams have had many encounters over the past decade and a half, splitting the results among their six games against each other in FIBA Asia competitions since 2007. However, it’s been the Philippines that have won two straight games in Asia Cup 2013 and 2017.
Though the Philippines are qualified as World Cup co-hosts, they might still have a chip on their shoulder from the previous window. Losing to Lebanon in their first game in heartbreaking fashion definitely hurt Gilas and they would want to prove that they can beat the likes of a West Asia power like Jordan even without Jordan Clarkson.
Jordan have a bit more incentive to claim their win here as they are among one of the three teams left in Group E battling for the last World Cup qualifying spot. The Falcons certainly have the advantage with their current record of 3-3, but starting the window with a win over the mighty Gilas would certainly go a long way for their confidence in the long run.
Lebanon vs New Zealand
10 November – 21:00 (GMT +2)
Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex, Zouk Mikael
We’re still on opening day of the window and it’s immediately another marquee matchup between the Cedars and the Tall Blacks.
The history between these two teams might not go way back, but this is certainly a rivalry in the making if the games continue to be as tightly contested as it has been in the past. Looking back to the previous World Cup cycle, New Zealand had the upperhand over Lebanon with three straight wins decided by no more than 4 points in each game. This certainly did not sit well with Lebanon as two of the losses they absorbed were in Lebanon at Asia Cup 2017 and the Second Round of the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.
Moreover, that home loss in the Asian Qualifiers was highlighted by the famous clutch three-pointer by Thomas Abercrombie that more or less shut down the hopes of World Cup qualification for Lebanon last time around.
It’s a bit different heading into this rematch.
Both teams are already qualified for the upcoming World Cup, so there won’t be any hopes or dreams crushed. But don’t expect either of the teams to roll over and sleepwalk through the games.
At the recent Asia Cup 2022, Lebanon dominated from start to finish in their Group Phase matchup for their first win over the Tall Blacks. The two teams eventually both ended up on the podium, but coach Pero Cameron’s squad will certainly want some revenge while they can here.
Iran vs China
11 November – 17:00 (GMT +3.5)
Azadi Basketball Hall, Tehran
It’s been a while, but two of the teams that have dominated Asia basketball since the turn of the millennium are set to clash.
The last time these two faced each other in a major FIBA competition was in the Semi-Finals of Asia Cup 2015 with China winning 70-57 on their way to a 16th title. However, the three matchups prior to that were won by Iran during the peak of their reign that included three Asia Cup titles. One of those titles – in 2009 – were even won over China with a score of 70-52.
China and Iran are still considered among the top teams in Asia but with Asia Cup 2022 being the first since 1973 without either team on the podium, there are some concerns if they are trending downwards.
As both teams are still battling for World Cup qualification, this makes it a very important game for each side. Not only would it raise the chances of booking a ticket to the main event next year, it would also give their fans confidence moving forward.
Both China and Iran are expected to parade some of the best in their national team pool, highlighted by a possible clash between Zhou Qi and Hamed Haddadi, so make sure to tune in for this one.
Jordan vs New Zealand
13 November – 19:00 (GMT +3)
Prince Hamza Hall, Amman
The Asia Cup 2022 bronze medal game rematch in Window 4 quickly turned dry as the Tall Blacks couldn’t stop making three-pointers right out of the games. With that sour taste still fresh on the tongues of Jordan, being able to quickly get some payback as the matchup heads to their home could be what they need.
Looking at the score of the previous game might be a bit discouraging for the Falcons, but they should be aware how dangerous of a team they can be at full potential. It’s especially important for Jordan to be able to rack up as many wins as they can during this window to lock up a World Cup spot as soon as possible.
For New Zealand, while they can already look ahead to preparing for the World Cup next year, it is never a bad idea to remind everyone how well they played against Jordan in Window 4.