19 February, 2024
25 February, 2025
Who are the two teams making Asia Cup Qualifiers debut?
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Who are the two teams making Asia Cup Qualifiers debut?

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - There are less than 20 days until the beginning of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers. The participating teams are already making moves, calling players up for training camp and naming new head coaches.

All 24 teams know well how important these games are. They know what it means to win—the joy of qualifying for the prestigious Asia Cup or the heartbreak of missing out on the main event.

The majority of these teams know exactly what it takes, as they've already been through the process of playing in these qualifiers, but for some teams, this will be their first time.

Here are the teams that are making their Asia Cup qualifier debuts.

The Long Road Back

UAE have their history in the Asia Cup. They've played in 8 Asia Cups, highlighted by a 5th place finish in 1997 where they defeated Chinese Taipei and lost to eventual champions Korea by only 1 point in the Group Phase.

However, it's been over a decade since they last played in the Continental Cup, which was back in 2011. Now, they are taking the long road back to being among the best of the best in the region once again.

UAE were heartbroken in 2018 when they barely missed advancing through the pre-qualifiers, needing an outright win in a three-point loss to Saudi Arabia on the final gameday.

So they came back determined in 2022 for this cycle's Pre-Qualifiers and flipped the script.

It was an intensely close race to claim qualification to the Qualifiers, but in the end, a key one-point victory over Kuwait was what got UAE through to their first appearance in an Asia Cup Qualifiers.

It will be a tough campaign, as UAE were drawn into Group F along with Bahrain, Syria, and Asia Cup 2022 Finalists Lebanon, but there are potentially some talents to keep an eye on. Most notably, the players that could be difference-makers are those that are starring for Shabab Al Ahli - Dubai in the West Asia Super League (WASL) - Gulf, from Qais Omar Alshabebi to Hamid Lateef.


Over in the East, it's a different story for the other Asia Cup Qualifiers debutants, Mongolia.

The squad from the "Land of Eternal Blue Sky" played in a FIBA senior men's national team competition for the first time through the Pre-Qualifiers and put on a show for their fans at home in Ulaanbaatar.

Through narrow losses and gutsy wins, Mongolia managed to emerge out of the Pre-Qualifiers and will now be playing in the Asia Cup Qualifiers for the first time ever. The nation is crazy about basketball and their fans wil now get a chance to put that on display in the exciting home-and-away format of the Qualifiers while their players go up against some of the best in this part of the world.

Mongolia head into their first Qualifiers in Group C where they will go up against a familiar Pre-Qualifiers opponent in Guam as well as rising powerhouse Japan and all-time Asia Cup winningest national team China. That's a tall task to ask for any team to go through, let alone a "rookie" national team, but there's no doubt that Mongolia will put in their best effort.

The entire national team program are currently flying under the radar, but that should soon come to an end as Asia Cup fans get to see more or some of their top talents in action whether it's Anand Ariunbold or Bilguun Battuvshin who shined for the team through the Pre-Qualifiers.

Like the previous cycle, the 24 Asia Cup Qualifiers teams are drawn into 6 groups of 4. Each team plays the other 3 teams on a home-and-away basis over 3 windows, with 2 games per window.

The top 2 teams from each group will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2025, making a total of 12 teams.

The six 3rd-place teams from each group, meanwhile, qualify to play in a final qualifying tournament. The top 4 teams from this competition will take the remaining spots of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025.