Is this the start of a historic summer for Indonesia basketball?
HANOI (Vietnam) - The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be a historic one for Indonesia basketball. Even though “Timnas” had a rough start to the year, things are starting to turn around.
Can they maintain their positive vibes heading into FIBA Asia Cup 2022 which will be played right at home in Jakarta?
Bumpy beginning to 2022
Indonesia did not end 2021 on much of a high note. They took in two big losses by an average of 52.0 points per game to Lebanon back in November, during the first Window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
Even as the calendar turned 2022, the situation still hadn’t turned around earlier in the year. In the second window of the World Cup Qualifiers in February, Indonesia faced both Saudi Arabia and Jordan… and lost to both by an average of 29.5 points per contest.
Indonesia weren’t out of the running to qualify for the World Cup through the Qualifiers just yet, but after four games and four losses, their chances looked bleak.
However, Indonesia’s hopes on qualifying for their first ever World Cup appearance was not solely dependent on their performance through the World Cup Qualifiers.
As co-hosts of the World Cup along with the Philippines and Japan, Indonesia were still able to secure direct qualification to the World Cup on one condition: making it to the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022.
The Draw of Asia Cup 2022 was completed in February and resulted in Indonesia being placed with defending champions Australia as well as familiar foes in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Headed out to SEA
As the Asia Cup got closer, the opportunities for Indonesia to build momentum leading up to the main event weren’t easy to come by. However, there was still the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in which Indonesia would be able to get some highly competitive games to sharpen their game plans.
At the SEA Games in Vietnam, Indonesia would go up against teams that have played in the Asia Cup in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore. Most importantly, they’d get the chance to face Asia Cup regulars and contenders, Philippines.
Again, Indonesia were off to a slow start. It took Indonesia an overtime period to beat Malaysia 95-92 to start off their campaign and then had to sweat out a 78-75 win over Thailand.
However, after those two wins against two relatively strong opponents, Indonesia started to look a bit more comfortable and loose. The next three games turned out to be blowouts of at least 30 points, including a 33-point beatdown against hosts Vietnam.
After five straight wins, Indonesia were now about to go up against the Philippines in their final game.
Throughout the entire history of the SEA Games, the Philippines had won all but 2 gold medals. The last time they didn’t finish at the top of the podium was way back in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur. They had won every single game since at least SEA Games 2001. This totals for at least 45 consecutive wins leading up to this final show down with Indonesia.
The odds were against Indonesia and no one could blame themselves for pegging Timas as underdogs. No one had beaten the Philippines in over 20 years, let alone claim the gold medal from their grasps.
But this year, history was about to be made.
Sparked by superb play from the entire squad, Indonesia went toe-to-toe with the Philippines in an exciting four quarters of action and emerged victorious 85-81. Five players scored in double-digits while shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range as a team, proving that this was a great team effort all around.
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Marques Bolden celebrated a highly successful national team debut, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the final game. 19-year-old Derrick Michael Xzavierro made a triumphant return to the national team, averaging 14.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Brandon Jawato, Andakara Prastawa, and Abraham Damar Grahita formed a three-headed monster from the wings and all averaged at least 12.0 points per game.
Most importantly, they were victorious and made history.
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More to Come?
After starting the year with big losses, Indonesia were now riding high with confidence heading towards the Asia Cup. It might seem like only one win to a casual fan, but to Indonesia, this was a sign of confirmation that the effort they had put into their program over the past few years might just be worth it.
The main mission of succeeding at the Asia Cup and qualifying for the World Cup is still not accomplished at the moment, but Indonesia should be in a better place confidence-wise coming away with this win over the Philippines. They will have games in the World Cup Qualifiers Window 3 against Saudi Arabia (July 1) and Jordan (July 4) and if Indonesia can keep the ball rolling from here on out, teams playing at the Asia Cup will have to watch out for the hosts come tipoff time.
They've already made history at the SEA Games. Can Indonesia make history once again at Asia Cup 2022 with their best finish in recent memory? Can they make a historic run to their first ever World Cup appearance?
Stay tuned to FIBA Asia Cup 2022 to find out.