FIBA – The Asian World Cup Qualifiers got off to a hot start on June 28th and basketball fans witnessed the latest upset in this window. China, which launched their morale-boosting “This is My House” slogan, fell to South Korea 74-82 in one of the more surprising results in Group A. This was a pivotal win for South Korea, which is now guaranteed to move on to the next round. Naturalized Korean big man, Ricardo Ratliffe dominated China in the paint, dropping 25 points and 11 rebounds. Both teams now share 3-2 records. Every win and loss still matters at this point as the records in this round will carry over into the next one.
New Zealand 124 – 65 Hong Kong
This was the second game in Group A and the result came as no surprise to anyone. Hong Kong remains without a win and is assured of being knocked out of the Asian World Cup Qualifiers. New Zealand, on the other hand, improves to 4-1 and is currently topping the group.
The Tall Blacks were expected to blowout Hong Kong, but this was an impressive win because of the margin. Tom Abercrombie and Rob Loe led the charge for the Kiwis with 18 points apiece. New Zealand stayed in control of this game all throughout and just kept on building on their ever-growing lead.
Choi Kwan Tsai and Shing Yee Fong were the top scorers for Hong Kong with 17 points each.
Syria 81 – 76 India
Syria secured a spot in the next round with this win. India will not be moving on, failing to bag a win in five games. This well-earned victory can be credited to Syria’s Michael Madanly and Abdulwahab Alhamwi, who combined 37 points. Madanly worked India from the outside with four 3-pointers to his name, while Abdulwahab did most of his damage from two-point range.
The victory improves Syria’s record to 2-3 in Group C and they will need to step up their game in the second round if they want to lock up a berth to the World Cup. As long as they are in, they have a chance. It will just take a lot of effort on their part to pack on those wins.
Lebanon 77 – 76 Jordan
In stark contrast to that New Zealand-Hong Kong blowout in Group A, this Group C game went down the wire. Lebanon and Jordan now share identical 4-1 records and both nations are guaranteed to advance to the second round of the FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers.
Jordan’s Zaid Ahmed Abbas was sent to the line with four seconds left in regulation. He could have lifted Jordan up for the win, or even tied up the game to force overtime but missed both of his free throws. Lebanon’s Bassel Bawji grabbed the defensive rebound and Lebanon held on for the win.