The Wright choice: Looking back at Jordan's Asia Cup success with Rasheim
Amman (Jordan) - Jordan were able to qualify to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 by riding the strong performances of their players throughout the Asian Qualifiers. Among the cast of stars like Zaid Abbas and Ahmad Al Dwairi, there was also naturalized player Dar Tucker who averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on the way to Jordan’s 2nd ever World Cup appearance. Before Tucker, however, it was Rasheim Wright who was successful in helping Jordan to their first World Cup bid.
Let’s take a look back at some of the best performances from Wright throughout his years playing in the FIBA Asia Cup!
It might be tough to find another FIBA Asia Cup debut as spectacular as that of Wright’s back in 2007. Jordan were drawn to play against defending champions China in their very first game of the tournament. China weren’t the same without Yao Ming that year, but were coming off 4 consecutive Asia Cup titles nonetheless.
That didn’t seem to matter against Wright, a 6’4” shooting guard who had only recently turned 26 years old a week before the game. In his debut, Wright poured in his Asia Cup-high of 31 points while shooting 11-15 from the field. Jordan pulled off the upset in a 78-65 win.
They ended up finishing at only 8th place that year, but Wright's debut game and his averages of 18.1 points on 49.1 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds per game served a fair warning for all opposing teams in the coming years.
Double-tap on the Cedars
Lebanon were coming off two straight trips to the Asia Cup finals heading into the 2009 edition of the tournament. Maybe if they had played against Jordan and Wright in 2007, they might have been better prepared.
Instead, Wright dominated the Lebanese both times they faced in Tianjin; first in the opening game of the tournament and again in the decisive third-place game. Wright went for over 20 points in both contests, averaging 25.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals. It was in the third-place game where Wright shined brightest as his all-around performance led to an 80-66 win, giving Jordan their best Asia Cup finish ever at that point and a trip to 2010 World Cup.
In all 3 of Wright’s FIBA Asia Cup runs, he never finished lower than 3rd place in scoring, but it was in 2009 when he topped all scorers in the tournament with an average of 20.7 points per game.
One for the Road
Wright’s last Asia Cup appearance for Jordan came in 2011 in Wuhan and it seemed like maybe he was saving his best for last.
The Philippines had already suffered the wrath of Wright and Jordan in 2009, absorbing a quarterfinals loss with Wright scoring 21 points. They were able to avenge that defeat in the second round of the 2011 tournament before facing each other again in the semifinals with much more on the line. Jordan took control in the second half and claimed the win on their way to their first ever Asia Cup finals off of Wright's 24 points.
Wright ended up back where he started, facing against China in the championship game. The match was a battle down to the wire in front of the rowdy home crowd in Wuhan with China leading most of the way. Wright did his best “Jordan” impression, scoring the the last 11 points for Jordan (who scored 13 in the entire quarter as a team) including a game-tying triple at 69.
Though he missed potential game-winners in the final seconds of the game that left China to celebrate their gold medal, there was no doubt that Wright had poured out his heart and soul for Jordan in their historic Asia Cup run.