12 - 24
July 2022
0 Thirdy Ravena (PHI), 9 Sergio El Darwich (LBN)
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10 Asia Cup takeaways to keep an eye on in upcoming Asian Qualifiers window and beyond

JAKARTA (Indonesia) - It’s quite a quick turnaround from FIBA Asia Cup 2022 right on to the next major competition, the Fourth Window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers. With only around one month for teams to regroup and prepare, this means that whatever they experienced and learned from the tourney in Jakarta will be of much value.

That goes for the fans as well who should enjoy the fact that Asia basketball will be back in such a quick period of time. Here are some takeaways that we learned from the Asia Cup that we can anticipate to see develop in the future… as early as Window 4 starting on August 25!

Boomers still on top… but how far up high?

As many expected, Australia were able to repeat as Asia Cup champions and they remain undefeated in the competition. The Boomers have played fantastic team basketball throughout the Asia Cups whether it was in 2017 or in the recent edition, but there is a sense that the other teams are closing the gap.

And the numbers support this takeaway to a certain level. In 2017, Australia won all games by an average margin of 28.8 points with no game decided by closer than 16 points. In 2022, the average margin of victory for Australia was down to 15.2 points with two games decided in single digits, including the one-point win over Lebanon.

Of course, we’ve seen cases where Australia have lost in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers and even in the Asia Cup Qualifiers, but their unbeaten status in the Asia Cup itself continues to be active. We’ll have to wait until 2025 to see that will change, where they will still have that target as the team to beat on their backs.

Arakji’s ascension

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, the leap into super-duper stardom by Wael Arakji is not surprising. He had one of the best Asia Cup debuts ever in Asia Cup history back in 2015 and has only continued to improve, especially when thrusted into a leadership role for the Cedars.

Still, it was exhilarating to watch as that rise happened in front of our very eyes in Jakarta. Seeing him take charge as the undisputed captain of Lebanon, especially in fourth quarters with his clutch shot- and play-making skills, the majority of Asia Cup fans probably had no issue seeing him named the TISSOT MVP when all is said and done.

Young Tall Blacks stand tall and talented

There was some concern about New Zealand’s chances at making it to another Asia Cup Semi-Finals, considering how young they were. It turns out that the young guns were more than capable of holding their own and even rapidly improving throughout the competition to finish on the podium for the first time.

Whether it was Flynn Cameron, Sam Mennenga, or Taine Murray, the Tall Blacks got major contributions during the run which bodes well for their future. Even though veterans like Sam Timmins and Tohi Smith-Milner stepped up in the later stages of the tournament, it should be fun to see how the youngsters continue to improve especially as they aim to qualify for another World Cup.

Never count out the Falcons

It was easy to doubt Jordan in the early stages of Asia Cup 2022. They weren’t exactly at their top form coming out of Window 3 of the Asian Qualifiers and struggled against both Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in the Group Phase.

For 35 minutes of the game against Chinese Taipei, it seemed as if they would come up short in the Asia Cup once again. One thing - a long three-point heave at the buzzer by Freddy Ibrahim - led to another and Jordan found themselves heading to the Final Phase.


They would eventually suffer defeat in a Semi-Finals clash for the ages against Lebanon by only one point, making it clear to all opponents in future competitions to never count them out until the final buzzer.

Japan are more than just their superstars

We all know about Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe and how well the two NBA players play when representing the country. However, with the influx of young players and being in the process of adjusting in a new system, it wasn’t clear how good Japan could be in a setting like the Asia Cup.

They proved to the fans that they could be very, very good. And we’re not only talking about the dominant performance where they showered a record-breaking amount of three-pointers on Syria or their first win over the Philippines in the Asia Cup in nearly 2 decades. We’re talking about how the team stepped up and embraced the system without an injured Yuta Watanabe against Australia, pushing the eventual champions to one of the toughest games they played in Jakarta.


Whether it was Keisei Tominaga, Yuki Kawamura, Hitotaka Yoshii or Soichiro Inoue, Japan never backed down without their biggest star.

Ageless Hamed

Hamed Haddadi brushed off any confirmation of either Asia Cup 2022 being his last run or if he was definitely going to be back for more. But if his individual production at the recent Asia Cup is any indication, it’s that the Asia Cup legend has plenty of fuel left in his tank.

Haddadi was Iran’s leader in Efficiency (26.0 per game), rebounds (14.3 per game), assists (4.0 per game), and blocks (2.0 per game) while also scoring 15.8 points per game. While he would have certainly enjoyed a deeper run in the Asia Cup, it’s still quite a performance by the Asian superstar.

Most likely, Haddadi isn’t look forward too far in the future just yet at Asia Cup 2025 (which would be his ninth Asia Cup). He can still be the main force for Iran as they play in the Second Round of the Asian Qualifiers, where if everything goes as planned for Iran could mean a 4th straight World Cup for Haddadi.

Young Gilas

This was the first time since 2007 that the Philippines failed to reach the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Asia Cup which is obviously not ideal, but there are some positive things to point out. The most glaring positive notes are the youngsters that stepped up to play in their first Asia Cup and did well whether it was Carl Tamayo or Kevin Quiambao who showed their scoring and passing skills.

The Philippines basketball fans certainly want their teams to finish higher in these major competitions, but at least they were able to see potentially key parts in a brighter future for the national team program.

Legends will be legends

Aside from Haddadi’s 8th Asia Cup run, it was also Zaid Abbas’ 6th Asia Cup appearance. Both of these Asia Cup legends made sure to show why they are so highly regarded among their peers and have been for over a decade.

Haddadi’s gaudy accomplishments have already been listed above and while Abbas’ production wasn’t as head-turning as the Iran superstar, he had his moments. The 37-year-old was a key piece of Jordan’s dramatic run to the Semi-Final and he played even more minutes as the competition progressed to the later stages.

Zaid had a classic outing of 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists going up against Haddadi in the Quarter-Finals and would finish his last game of the competition with 15 points, 9 rebounsd, and 3 assists.

Will it be the last Asia Cup games for these legends? That is for them to decide when the time comes, but until they do… legends will be legends when they take the court.

Bright future in Asia

Aside from the legendary performances of the current stars, this FIBA Asia Cup also proved to be a good platform for the stars of the future to get their feet wet.

We’ve already taken the chance to go through the list of spectacular 21st century talents and it’s never too late to have another look, especially when they might take another step forward in the upcoming Window of the World Cup Qualifiers.


Rematches galore

For those who might be suffering from an Asia Cup 2022 withdraw, there’s good news! You won’t have to wait too long to see some juicy rematches as some of the teams that faced each other in Jakarta will be playing against each other again in Window 4 of the Asian Qualifiers.

There’s a rematch of the early clash between Lebanon and the Philippines where the Cedars are coming off as Asia Cup Finalists and Gilas revamping their roster to prove a point.

Then there’s the Third-Place Game rematch between Jordan and New Zealand.

Iran and Japan will be fun as well, as Japan could get some revenge for their Asia Cup Group Phase loss. Similarly, Bahrain will get another shot at taking down China in where they were just one point away from locking in what might have been one of the biggest Asia basketball upsets in recent memory.

So if you enjoyed watching Asia Cup 2022, you’ll get your fix sooner rather than later when the World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers tip off on August 25.