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Top 10 moments in Asia from 2023

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - How has 2024 been so far? If you are off to a sluggish start, we're ready to inspire you with some of the best moments from Asia that happened in 2023. We're sure that whatever amazing things transpired in 2023 can be matched by whatever is upcoming in 2024.

Without further ado, here are Asia's top 10 hits from 2023!

Mothers of Dragon, Breaker of Chains

The women's national team of China has been building towards great success, so when they eventually won the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2023 in Sydney, Australia, this past year, it was not surprising.

Still, it was quite a spectacle to watch as China outlasted Japan in a clash for the ages in the final, ending a streak of five consecutive titles for the women's Akatsuki Japan. It was a title that was 12 years in the making, just as stars Han Xu and Li Meng are heading into their primes. This might end up being a long run of their own if they can keep it up.

Timnas Putri, History makers

At the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2023, Division B, there was some history being made as well. The women's national team of Indonesia also made an impressive run, winning the competition in Bangkok, Thailand, to secure promotion to Division A in 2025.

That alone is worthy of celebration for any team strong enough to accomplish, but the fact that it is the first time ever for Indonesia to make it to the top division of the Women's Asia Cup makes it a special occasion indeed. While the level of competition will be higher, Indonesia has done enough and displayed plenty of promise over the past few years to assure that they'll give all that they've got once they get there.

Into the Top 10

In part, because they were able to win the Women's Asia Cup, China remained in second place in the FIBA World Ranking Women after the ranking update in August.

They have been among the top two ever since making it to the Women's World Cup Final in 2022 and continue to build on an impressive resume during this run.

However, as the dust settled heading into 2024, the FIBA World Ranking Girls was also updated, and it was revealed that Japan made a return to the Top 10 after going up 4 spots from the previous update.

Japan reached the Quarter-Finals of the U19 Women's Basketball World Cup for the 6th time, also ending up with a final standing at 6th place - their second-best result ever in the competition. At the U16 Women's Asian Championship, Japan continued their streak of making it to the Final of all editions of the competition so far, making it their 7th consecutive appearance in the title game.

The boys are back

The boys of Asia made a major accomplishment as well, namely China and the Philippines. Both teams made it through to the Semi-Finals of the U16 Asian Championship this past year, meaning they also secured a ticket to the U17 World Cup - a return for both teams after missing the previous edition.

It was a particularly inspiring run by the Philippines who had to overcome tough rivals in Korea and Japan before making their way to the Semi-Finals stage, led by promising leader Kiefer Alas.

Inaugural Champions

2023 was a special year as it was the first year that the champions of the West Asia Super League (WASL)-Gulf, WASL-West Asia, and WASL-Final 8 were crowned. The pan-regional league saw great games and outstanding performances from top-tier stars throughout the entire season.

In WASL-Gulf, it was Kuwait Club that went through the competition undefeated to secure the title. In WASL-West Asia, it was storied franchise Al Riyadi that emerged on top of a competitive pack.

And at the WASL-Final 8 where the best of the best collided, it was Manama who was the last team left standing. Not only did they win the WASL-Final 8, they also secured a ticket to the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, where they faced off against the best clubs in the world in Singapore this past year.

"Syria-ously" the place to be

If you are a fan of Asian basketball, you know well how wild the crowds in Syria can be. Syrians are passionate and not afraid to express that, especially when cheering for their teams.

In the past, this was on display as they hosted some World Cup qualifier games, but it was full force in 2023. Not only did the Syrian clubs playing in WASL-West Asia host fans in Damascus and Aleppo, but a FIBA Olympics pre-qualifying tournament was also hosted in Syria. This made it a long-waited return for a FIBA competition to be hosted in the country, and the fans loved it.



World Cup in Asia

The basketball fans in Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines loved 2023 as well as being able to witness in their backyards the FIBA Basketball World Cup—the first time that the event was hosted in three countries.

These fans made sure to make the most of the opportunity, filling up the stands whether it was in Jakarta, Okinawa, or Manila. In Jakarta, the fans got to taste world-class-level basketball in the new, state-of-the-art Indonesia Arena. In Okinawa, the Japanese fans got to witness a story-tale run by their own team that clinched a spot in the Olympic Games later this year. And in Manila, they were able to set the attendance record at the Philippine Arena and watch what might have been one of the most best Semi-Finals and Final in the history of the World Cup.

Not bad.

World Cup in Asia... again!

And the World Cup will be back in Asia in 2027! Another highlight in 2023 was the announcement earlier in the year that the hosting rights of World Cup 2027 was awarded to Qatar. This is the first time FIBA's flagship event will be hosted in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and will help grow the popularity of basketball even further, aiming to engage millions (and growing) of basketball fans in the region and more.

We were 4 years away from the 2023 World Cup in 2027 when the hosting rights were awarded. It's still a long way, but 2024 means we're counting down to 3 years to go now.

Asia Cup headed to Saudi Arabia

2023 was a big year for announcements in Asia. As if to ramp up the excitement for the World Cup in Qatar in 2027, it was announced later in the year that FIBA Asia Cup 2025 would be hosted in Saudi Arabia.

This will mean a return to the country for the FIBA Asia Cup after nearly three decades since 1997.

Of course, before we even get to that stage, there will be plenty of exciting basketball through the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers which will tip off in February this year.

Mongolia making a run

2023 was a big year for Mongolia basketball. There's always been a passion for basketball in Mongolia, but it's now becoming clearer for the rest of Asia to see.

This all started in late 2022 when they hosted the first window of the Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers, but only grew louder during the second window - in which they were able to confirm qualification to the aforementioned FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers.

Of course, that was not the only reason to celebrate for Mongolian basketball fans. The women's national team also made a historic appearance in the Women's Asia Cup Division B, their first FIBA competition. They also came away with their first-ever win, an 80-41 victory over Sri Lanka.