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5 takeaways from Window 2 of the Asian Qualifiers
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - That’s a wrap for Window 2 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers! We had a little bit of everything from dominating win, upset victories, record smashing performances, and flashes of potential for the stars of Asia basketball.
If you weren’t able to catch up on all the action, here’s a summary with the five takeaways from this window in the Asian Qualifiers.
We need to talk about the Steppen Wolves
Kazakhstan have always been one of the good teams in Asia Basketball, with their moments of glory in the Asia Cup such as a 4th placed finish in 2007. In spite of that, the Steppen Wolves generally do not generate as much buzz relative to their performance.
This should begin to change after Window 2.
Kazakhstan headed into the window with 2 good wins over Syria. To start this window, they marched right into Tehran and took a win from right under Iran’s noses. Then they capped it all off with a masterpiece of a win over Bahrain which saw them knock down an Asian Qualifiers-high 17 threes on 53.1 percent three-point shooting.
Undefeated and qualified for the Second Round, the Steppen Wolves are steppin’ up.
Falcons still flying high
There was some concern over the performance of Jordan in Window 1 after losing to Saudi Arabia. That concern has been put to rest for the meanwhile after their superb performance in Window 2.
Jordan started the window with a very impressive win over Lebanon, putting on display who good they can be at full force with the core of Freddy Ibrahim, Amin Abu Hawwas, Dar Tucker, Zaid Abbas, and Ahmad Al Dwairi. That’s a starting five that is one of - if not the - best starting five in Asia basketball right now.
After that win, also made sure to handle Indonesia without much of a struggle to qualify for the Second Round.
Jordan are high on confidence right now, which should set up an exciting rematch against Lebanon in Window 3.
Will the real Jamshidi please stand up?
What a window it was for Mohammad Jamshidi.
It’s a shame that Iran lost to Kazakhstan in their first game, which was possibly the only blemish in Jamshidi’s body of work in Window 2. Let’s take a dive into the numbers a bit.
Jamshidi averaged 36.5 points per game while shooting 23-38 (60.5 percent) from the floor and missing only 1 of 24 free-throw attempts (95.8 percent) in these two games for Iran. Of course, the main highlight was his 41-point (most in World Cup 2023 Qualifiers so far) effort against Syria, which accounted for more than half of Iran’s points in that game, while not attempting a single three-pointer.
Iran were missing an important part of their offense without Behnam Yakhchali in this window, forcing Jamshidi to take on a larger chunk of the scoring load, which he responded very well. The takeaway here heading into the next window and next competitions is that Jamshidi can takeover games when needed, if you didn’t know that already.
Consider yourselves warned.
Age is just a number
We put a lot of focus on the youngsters (and rightfully so, as they are the future), but that doesn’t mean we don’t value the veterans - the OGs - in the game.
Kelly Williams, now 40, made a return to the Philippines national team after last representing the country at Asia Cup 2011. “Kuya Kelly” provided a physical presence in the paint for the Philippines in this window, with 4.0 rebounds per game, as well as some defensive effort with 2.0 steals per game.
Meanwhile in Jordan, Zaid Abbas made his return to the national team after announcing his retirement last year. He proved to be an important part of the impressive run from Jordan in this window, averaging 11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.5 steals while shooting 71.4 percent from the floor.
Respect your vets, kids.
Setting up the table
There’s now only one more window left in the First Round of the Asian Qualifiers, which sets the stage for some important clashes to settle the remaining qualification spots for the Second Round.
The Philippines and Japan are already qualified as co-hosts of the World Cup. Jordan and Lebanon clinched qualification from Group C, while Kazakhstan and Iran clinched qualification from Group D. India and New Zealand are also qualified from Group A.
In Group C, it’ll be between Saudi Arabia (2-2) and Indonesia (0-4). While Saudi Arabia have a huge advantage after securing a 95-66 win, the race is not over until it’s over.
For Group D, Syria (1-3) will battle with Bahrain (0-4) for the final spot to the next round of the Qualifiers. Bahrain has a lot of ground to cover, especially after an 80-64 loss to Syria and having to face undefeated Kazakhstan in the final window, but you can never count them out.
Make sure you don’t miss Window 3 of the Asian Qualifiers from June 30 - July 4.