Jordan’s National Team qualified for the World Championships for the first time ever after taking the Bronze Medal in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, China by upsetting the more fancied Lebanese side.
The Jordanians actually came achingly close to making the final of that competition and were only narrowly defeated by Iran in the semi final. They rebounded from that heart-breaking loss to beat Lebanon 80-66 in the third-fourth playoff match and book their berth to Turkey.
There are two major reasons for the recent success of Jordan in world basketball. The first is Rasheim Wright, a naturalised Jordanian from America who was the tournament’s leading scorer at in Tianjin. A 194cm guard, Wright averaged an impressive 20.7 points and 3.6 rebounds for Jordan in the Asia Championship.
The second reason for the rise of Jordan’s national team is undoubtedly their Portuguese head coach, Mario Palma. An experienced international coach, Palma has led his teams to victory all over the world, winning the Portuguese League six times, the Angolan League four times and the Jordanian League once. During his international coaching career, he became a legend in Angola when he won four consecutive FIBA Africa Championships between 1999 and 2005. The experienced mentor has also participated in two Olympic Games during 2000 and 2004.
Two other players that the Boomers will need to be wary of on Saturday night are Zaid Abbaas and Ayman Adais. The pair both scored in double-figures in the Asia Championship, averaging 13.4 and 10.9 respectively. Abbaas, a 203cm forward, was also fourth in rebounding at 8.8 per game.
One thing in the Australians’ favour is that the Jordanians have been hamstrung in their preparations by the collapse of their domestic league. The Jordan Olympic Committee actually dissolved the Jordanian Basketball Federation six weeks before the Asia Championship in 2009 and one consequence was the suspension of the local league, in which all the players of the national team, except Abbaas, played.
The Boomers (currently ranked 11th in the world by FIBA) will head into the match as overwhelming favourites, which shouldn’t surprise given this is Jordan’s (ranked 38th) first world titles whereas Australia have been here nine times before. On the Sportingbet website, Australia is currently paying just $1.05 for the win, while Jordan is at $10.00.
For the Boomers, it’s the chance to start the tournament with a strong win which could then springboard them to a best-ever result. Twice before the Boomers have finished fifth at a world championship – in 1982 and 1994.
The Boomers are also entering the world titles in good form, having gone 9-1 in their lead-up tournaments. Despite this, the Australians certainly won’t be taking their first opponents for granted. Jordan finished their own world titles preparations with a 65-62 win over New Zealand, who beat Australia in the 2009 FIBA Oceania Championship.
Australia will no doubt be focused on avoiding a repeat of their experience at the 2006 world titles in Japan. There they went 2-3 in pool play and came up against the might of the US in the crossover.
Australia has been drawn in Group A for the 2010 FIBA World Championships and after playing Jordan will face Argentina (29 August), Germany (30 August), Serbia (1 September) and Angola (September 2). All of the Boomers’ five preliminary round games will be held in Kayseri.
The Australia-Jordan match will be shown on delay at 8:00AM on Sunday morning on FOX SPORTS 1. Fans can also watch all games of the world titles live via http://www.fibatv.com.
2010 FIBA World Championship
Australian Boomers Preliminary Round Schedule
Date Opponent Time (Local/AEST) Venue
28 Aug Australia vs. Jordan 4:30PM/11:30PM Kayseri
29 Aug Australia vs. Argentina 9:30PM/4:30AM Kayseri
30 Aug Australia vs. Germany 7:00PM/2:00AM Kayseri
1 Sept Australia vs. Serbia 4:30PM/11:30PM Kayseri
2 Sept Australia vs. Angola 4:30PM/11:30AM Kayseri