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Asia Cup rivalries set to be rekindled after World Cup Qualifiers Draw
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - We all love ourselves one grudge match. Or two. Or seven.
Fortunately, that’s what Asia Cup fans will be getting from the expected matchups as a result of the recent FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Qualifiers Draw. Whether it’s old arch-nemeses crossing paths or budding intense rivalries, look forward to seeing the sparks fly through the Asian Qualifiers.
Iran vs Syria
There’s not much history here in this Group D matchup… yet.
However, the last time these two teams faced each other in the Asia Cup Qualifers, it resulted in a historically massive upset which saw the 92nd ranked team in the FIBA World Ranking (at that time) Syria beat the 23rd ranked team, Iran. As a matter of fact, Syria might not even be playing in the World Cup Qualifiers if not for that win over Iran.
Now that they’ll be scheduled to play each other at least two more times in the near future, don’t be surprised if both teams will have the date circled in their calendars.
Iran will certainly want to erase any doubt from the minds of their fans that they are still among the top of Asia Cup contenders. Convincingly beating a team that had recently upset them should do the trick.
Meanwhile, Syria get the chance to prove to the everyone that the win over Iran wasn’t an outlier performance by the team. They’ve already drawn a lot of attention by shooting up 10 spots in the recent update of the FIBA World Ranking and another upset over Iran would surely put them in the spotlight.
Jordan vs Lebanon
Anytime two powerhouses are scheduled to collide, mark it down as a can’t-miss event.
That’s what we have here in Group C in Jordan and Lebanon, two teams that have both played in the Asia Cup Finals and played in the World Cup.
Jordan made their way through the Asia Cup Qualifiers undefeated to earn their ticket to the World Cup Qualifiers, which was also the case for Lebanon who swept through their competition as well. One of these teams are due for their first loss in quite a while, so don’t expect anyone to back down.
To add a bit more into the intrigue, Jordan and Lebanon aren’t too far apart from each other, so expect the stands to be packed for both home games by both fanbases.
Australia vs Japan
One of the biggest moments in the recent years of basketball on this side of the world is when Japan beat Australia for their first win in the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. Australia had gone undefeated through Asia Cup 2017 and had no signs of slowing down until they ran into Rui Hachimura and company in that memorable game.
Moreover, it was the win that sparked an 8-game winning streak for Japan at that point which was what they needed to clinch World Cup qualification.
Now we have a rematch in Group B. Australia are coming in hot as the bronze medalists from the Tokyo Olympics, but they’ll be more than wary this time around of what Japan can do.
China vs Japan
China and Japan are two of the most successful teams in Asia Cup history. Both are among only 5 national teams to have won the Asia Cup twice and rank among the top 3 of medals won. Therefore, any time that they are set to play again each other as they will be here in Group B, make sure to check it out.
It’s only been a couple of months since they last played against each other twice in two close contests in the Philippines bubble of the Asia Cup Qualifiers and here they are, set to play each other again.
China will be hungry to prove themselves after missing the Olympics for the first time in a long while. Japan are set to qualify for World Cup 2023 as co-hosts of the event, but they surely won’t be slacking off in the opportunity to play against a team of China’s caliber.
China vs Chinese Taipei
One of the biggest moments in Chinese Taipei basketball history was back at Asia Cup 2013 when they beat China in the Quarter-Finals. China had won 10 straight Asia Cup encounters heading into the game and saw that streak broken when the final buzzer sounded.
While most of the players from that generation have retired from playing for Chinese Taipei, the fire that they lit in the next wave of ballers continues to blaze. With players like Chen Ying-Chun or Lin Ting-Chien, Chinese Taipei have plenty of talents on deck for their upcoming games. Whether that will be enough to pull off an upset against China - again - here inn Group B is something fans will be waiting to see.
New Zealand vs Korea
The fates of these two teams seem tangled.
In New Zealand’s first ever Asia Cup back in 2017, they were drawn into the same group with Korea for the Group phase before playing against each other once again for third place on the final day. Korea walked away from both games with wins, but the margin of victory was narrow enough to suggest that it might have gone either way.
Only a few months later, the two teams were again drawn to the same group - this time for the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. Korea again won the first of two contests before New Zealand were finally able to get into the win column of this head-to-head matchup.
After avoiding each other through the Asia Cup Qualifiers, here we are once again in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers with Korea and New Zealand drawn together in Group A.
Obviously, no one should be complaining because each of these game that these two teams have played against each other have been down to the wire and that’s what fans will be hoping for come tipoff time.
Philippines vs Korea
You just can’t get enough of this.
When the teams were draw for the Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, the talk of the town was instantly the games between the Philippines and Korea who were drawn into the same group. These were two teams that have had a lengthy history with each other in plenty of emotional games.
Korea had the upper hand against the Philippines early on, but that script has been flipped in the recent years.
Ask any Filipino basketball fan and they’ll be sure to have their own personal memory of watching Jimmy Alapag drain “The Shot” against Korea back at Asia Cup 2013. Ask them again about SJ Belangel’s game-winning buzzer beater at the Asia Cup Qualifiers and you’ll instantly make their day.
The Philippines are high on confidence with the recent performances of their young team and getting the chance to face their long-time nemesis once again at this stage will only help their development.
Similarly, Korea are also bringing up a bright young core, so giving them the opportunity to compete in an intense atmosphere as this rivalry is going to be a win.
Nonetheless, the most important thing at the end of the day is being the team that goes away with the victory.