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The Top 10 Moments in Asia for 2019

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The year 2019 will soon be behind us but the many big moments that happened over the past 12 months will live strong in the memory.

Here is our top 10:

Japan win fourth consecutive FIBA Women's Asia Cup

With one stirring performance after another, Japan won all five of their games in Bengaluru, including an impressive 74-64 triumph over Australia in the Semi-Finals and a 71-68 victory over China on September 29 in the title game.

Alvark Tokyo get redemption in Champions Cup

Just one year after falling to Petrochimi in the Final, 68-64, Alvark Tokyo celebrated the title themselves. Edged by Al Riyadi on Day 2, 77-75, the Japanese club struck back with a vengeance and beat the same opponents in the Championship game on September 29, 98-74. 

First-Ever Asia Cup Qualifiers Draw

The FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers Draw that took place in Bengaluru, India, on June 8 was an historical moment for basketball in the region. It was the first time for such an occasion and it created a big buzz as the 24 teams discovered how tricky their paths to the big event would be.  Philippines basketball great Jimmy Alapag of the Philippines and Japa legend Asami Yoshida assisted with the draw.

Iran punch ticket for 2020 Olympics

A couple of heartbreaking defeats - 83-81 to Puerto Rico and 73-65 to Spain (Iran had led in the fourth quarter) - and a 79-67 setback to Tunisia left Iran with an 0-3 record heading into the Classification Round. With their eyes on the prize of Olympic qualification, Hamed Haddadi and Co first beat Angola, 71-62 and then, on September 8, thumped the Philippines, 95-75, to clinch a spot in the Tokyo Games.

Jordan upset New Zealand in last Asian Qualifier to reach World Cup

Jordan had last played at a FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010 and their chances of making it to China in 2019 looked bleak when they entered the last window of the Asian Qualifiers mired in a four-game losing streak and needing to beat both China and New Zealand in Amman. Jordan's players and fans never doubted their chances. They beat the Chinese, 86-62, and then turned the Prince Hamza Arena into a big party with 86-80 triumph over the Tall Blacks.

Japan overcome superstar Cambage and Australia

The towering presence of Cambage wasn't enough to lift the Opals over Japan

Some might not have placed much value on Japan's title wins at the FIBA Asia Women's Cups of 2017 and 2019 since giant center Liz Cambage was not with Australia at the events. Well, she was with the Opals at the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Kuala Lumpur on November 17 against the Japanese and the Far East team didn't blink, winning 82-69.

China stun Australia 70-69 at FIBA Women's Asia Cup

Shao Ting celebrated after leaving the Opals in a spin while making the go-ahead basket

In what most assuredly was one of the best and most thrilling games in FIBA Women's Asia Cup history, China and Australia traded blows on Day 3. Getting a vintage Shao Ting spinning layup with 5.9 seconds remaining, China edged it.

A 17,000-strong crowd roars China to victory on opening night of World Cup

The Wukesong Arena had had some electric atmospheres when hosting big basketball games at the 2008 Olympics and it sure was loud on the night of August 31, when China charged back from an early 6-point deficit and crushed Cote d'Ivoire, 70-55.

Japan overcome nightmare start to reach World Cup

Japan's hopes of making it to the FIBA Basketball World Cup looked dead in the water they lost their first four games in the Asian Qualifiers yet they came to life with a 79-78  victory over Australia. That sparked an eight-game winning streak that culminated with a 96-48 win at Qatar on February 24, the final victory needed to seal a spot at China 2019.

Thailand stage FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup

Thailand grabbed the opportunity to host a world event for the first time since 2009 (when the country also put on the U19 Women's Basketball World Cup) and put on a great show, one that was capped by a remarkable Final between Australia and the United States.  The USA claimed a 78-74 overtime victory to win this year's event.