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Which teams will complete the journey from Pre-Qualifiers to Asia Cup?
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - The road to FIBA Asia Cup 2021 is a long and lengthy one. It’s been a grueling process that has been on-going ever since 2018. For some teams in particular, their process to the Asia Cup included playing in the Pre-Qualifiers, as well.
As we close in down to 92 days left to Asia Cup 2021, let’s take a look at the teams who played their way through the Pre-Qualifiers and are trying to claim their spot at the main event.
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Guam went through the East Region Pre-Qualifiers undefeated with an average win margin of 29.5 points. They led all teams in the East Region Pre-Qualifiers with 92.3 points per game and consistently put on display that they were the class of the crop.
Loaded with high-quality platers like Earnest Ross and Curtis Washington, Guam should have a very good shot at claiming a ticket to Asia cup 2021. Guam’s lone game in the Qualifiers so far resulted in a loss to New Zealand, but it shouldn’t be too hard to turn things around in the remaining games.
Fans have seen Guam’s firepower throughout the Qualifiers and would probably love to see their flair in Jakarta, too.
While Guam conquered the East, it was Saudi Arabia who dominated in the West.
Saudi Arabia had some close games with some of the other teams in this list, but were able to go through the West Region Pre-Qualifiers unscathed nonetheless. Eight players (led by Khalid Abdel Gabar) averaged double-digit scoring for Saudi Arabia, an example of how balanced their offense was through their dominating run. They led all teams in scoring for the Pre-Qualifiers with a whopping 96.0 points per contest.
Saudi Arabia are in Group E, where they are currently in third place. That group, however, has been so tightly contested that everything can change the upcoming games. Saudi Arabia have already impressed in victories and even in close defeats heading into this final stretch where they will be facing Syria and Iran.
Once a powerhouse in the late 90s and early 2000s, Saudi Arabia are strong push to once again become one of the best in the Asia Cup. Will they be able to seal their qualification spot?
Palestine’s only loss in the Pre-Qualifiers came at the hands of Saudi Arabia (listed above) and it was a close one. They lost that game by only 9 and it was neck and neck through out the majority of the game.
Palestine were also a high scoring squad at 92.3 points per game, led by their superstar Sani Sakakni who averaged 28.5 points per contest by himself.
Palestine have maintained their high-scoring ways so far in the Qualifiers, averaging 90.8 points through 4 games with 2 wins. They currently sit at second place in Group F and at the very least will have a shot to get their Asia Cup seat through the Qualifying Tournament for third-placed teams.
The memory of their Asia Cup debut back in 2013 is still fresh on their minds and Palestine would probably like to add on to that legacy in 2021.
Malaysia are a young team that displayed their potential during the Pre-Qualifiers with entertaining clashes against Indonesia and Thailand. Their wins over Indonesia and Singapore helped propel them to the play in the Qualifiers.
It’s been a bumpy start for Malaysia in the Qualifiers with their lone game being a huge defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei. It’s going to be an even tougher schedule as they will also be set to face China and Japan in the Group B clashes as well.
Thailand closed their Pre-Qualifiers run a little bit shaky with 2 losses in 4 games and only a close win over Malaysia. Still, they had shown that they had plenty of talent from Chitchai Ananti, Chanatip Jakrawan, and Moses Morgan.
They went even deeper into their talent pool for the Qualifiers and have been able to get even better performances from Tyler Lamb and Nattakarn Muangboon. Unfortunately, those performances haven’t been able to produce a win yet after 4 games. Their efforts have been admirable, especially against Korea in Korea, but they’ll need to collect Ws in the final two games to keep their Asia Cup hopes alive.
Indonesia and Bahrain have already qualified for Asia Cup 2021, making them the first two teams that played through the Pre-Qualifiers to do so.
Indonesia qualify as hosts of Asia Cup 2021 and they’ve been continuously making attempts to improve their team’s level of play to be worthy of facing the best of the Asia Cup when the time comes. The most notable adjustments from their Pre-Qualifiers run to their current Qualifiers set up is having Rajko Toroman as head coach as well as having Lester Prosper and Brandon Jawato as key additions.
Bahrain have also made strides of improvement in their quest from the Pre-Qualifiers to the Asia Cup. The results? A second place finish in Group D of the Qualifiers and a direct ticket to Asia Cup 2021.
Aside from bringing back CJ Giles who played for the national team back in 2013, coach Sam Vincent was also able to enjoy the production of talented youngster Muzamil Hamoda. The sensational swingman has been averaging 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the Qualifiers, making him one of the top young players to watch in Asia Cup 2021.
The South Asian nation were able to make it through to the Qualifiers and inched closer to making a return to the Asia Cup.
However, they were unable to record a win through 5 games against strong opponents in Group F leaving them out of the qualification picture. Nonetheless, this is a young group of players and they will certainly benefit from the experience gained playing against the likes of Jordan, Palestine, and Kazakhstan.
Who do you think will complete the journey from Pre-Qualifiers to Asia Cup?