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22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
3 Ater Majok (LBN), 23 Yousef Khayat (LBN)
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5 burning questions to be answered in Window 2 of the Asian Qualifiers

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers are less than a month away and the suspense is gradually building up. There are still a lot of unknowns among the teams that will be in action later in February and that leaves a lot of questions to be answered.

Even though we’re still early in the ramp up process leading up to the competition, it’s never too early to question what we should expect to see in the upcoming Asian Qualifiers.

Are Lebanon the real deal?

Going back to the start of the Asia Cup Qualifiers, Lebanon have now won 8 straight games at this level. After beating Iraq, India, Indonesia, and Bahrain in those games, they’ll be going up against quite a formidable foe in Jordan in the upcoming window.

World Cup 2019 participants Jordan (39th) are actually ranked higher than Lebanon (55th) in the FIBA World Ranking, but are heading into this matchup after suffering a lost to Saudi Arabia on the road in the last window. Nonetheless, they’ve been solid over the recent years as they also went through the Asia Cup Qualifiers undefeated.

Lebanon are a relatively young squad albeit brimming with great talent up and down the roster that have a lot to prove. This upcoming matchup against Jordan should be a good chance for them to show how good they truly are, especially with the game being played in Amman.

The Tall Cedars should also not underestimate their second game in the window against a tough as nails Saudi Arabia squad that play well in Jeddah.

How much of an edge do the Philippines have over the Korea?

They tell you to suck it up and move on after a tough loss, especially in the way the Korea lost to the Philippines in their first meet during the Asia Cup Qualifiers, but it’s easier said than done. To make it even more difficult, Korea suffered two straight losses to the Philippines in that Clark bubble.

They didn’t have to wait long for the chance to exact revenge after the luck of the draw put Korea in the same group as the Philippines for the World Cup Qualifiers, with both matchups being scheduled in this upcoming window.

The Philippines might have won two straight games against their fierce rivals, but these were so tightly contested down the wire that it could be said that there’s not much of a gap talent-wise between these two teams.

Therefore, how Korea responds with their play in this upcoming game could show how much those defeats impacted their confidence. Whatever the case, fans should be happy that they get to watch what should be an exciting parts 3 and 4 of this rivalry.

There’s slightly less pressure on the Philippines to perform as they have already qualified for the World Cup as co-hosts, but no one is expecting them to roll over and cruise through these games.

Was Iran’s loss to Syria at the Asia Cup Qualifiers an outlier?

It was quite a historic upset when Syria beat Iran at the Asia Cup Qualifiers in late 2020. Syria deserves full credit for securing that victory, but here at the World Cup Qualifiers, Iran have the opportunity to showcase why their subpar performance in that game could be considered an outlier.

Again, this question is not a slight towards Syria who played their hearts out. They have been solid despite two losses in the first window to Kazakhstan and are expected to put pressure on Iran in this window, especially if they can beat Bahrain in their first game.

Meanwhile, Iran were dominant in their first pair of World Cup Qualifiers games. If they can confidently beat Syria here, it might silence the doubters that refer to the lost to Syria as a point of decline for Team Melli.

How much pressure is there on Indonesia?

Indonesia operated through the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers with determination, even if it might not have been much pressure on them as they were guaranteed a spot as hosts of the continental cup competition.

For the World Cup, even though they are one of the co-hosts, Indonesia’s spot at the Final Phase will only be confirmed should they be able to qualify outright via the Qualifiers or if they can advance to at least the Quarter-Finals at the FIBA Asia Cup this year.

Losing their first games to Lebanon hurts their chances a bit, but it will be these two games up ahead in the window that will truly reveal how much pressure they are under. More than just their position in the standings of their group, the results of these games ahead will reflect up to a certain level how much Indonesia has developed over the years.

In particular, the first contest against Saudi Arabia should immediately say a lot about what to expect from Indonesia. Saudi Arabia are certainly no pushovers, but according to the FIBA World Ranking, that might be Indonesia’s best shot at claiming their first win.

How close is the gap between Australia and the playing field?

Australia were champions of the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 where they went undefeated and won each game with quite a comfortable margin. With that undefeated status, it felt as if the gap between Australia and the other teams was quite a large one.

During the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers that followed, that gap seemed to close in a bit with losses to Japan and Iran. The trend continued when the Boomers lost in Australia to New Zealand during the Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.

Now with the World Cup 2023 Qualifiers campaign about to tip-off, fans will get the chance to see if that gap is still closing in.

Australia are heading into the Qualifiers as Tokyo Olympic bronze medal winners, a historic achievement. The roster that they will be lining up for the Asian Qualifiers might be different, but the level of talent for the Boomers is always top notch.

The Boomers will be playing in three games in this upcoming window. Aside from playing Taipei twice, the rematch against Japan on February 27 should definitely be one to watch just to see how much of an upper hand Australia still has.