BEIRUT (Lebanon) – There will be 20 games played during the second window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers with 15 teams in action.
For those of you who might not have the time to follow each and every second of action (not matter how much that is recommended), we’ve come up with a selection of 5 matchups that you most certainly do not want to miss.
Korea vs Philippines
Time: Thursday, February 24 – 18:00 GMT +8
Place: Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila
Time: Monday, February 28 – 18:00 GMT +8
Place: Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila
Even the most casual Asia basketball fans should be aware of the rivalry between Korea and the Philippines. From Close games with high stakes, big time shots, clutch blocks, to buzzer-beating game-winners, this matchup has seen it all throughout the years. The Philippines has the upper hand of having beaten Korea twice in the Asia Cup Qualifiers in two very close games, so that should be enough to keep this fiery rivalry ablaze.
Japan vs Australia
Time: Saturday, February 27 – 18:30 GMT +9
Place: Okinawa Arena, Okinawa
The last time these two teams played in the World Cup Qualifiers back in 2018, it ended up as one of the biggest upsets in the entire Qualifiers regardless of region. There might be a bit less at stake here as Japan are already qualified as co-hosts of the World Cup in 2023, but playing at home against one of the best teams in the world should be enough to make things interesting. For the Boomers, the chance at getting revenge after nearly 4 years (even with different squads) is should be more than enough to get them going.
Jordan vs Lebanon
Time: Thursday, February 24 – 19:00 GMT +2
Place: Prince Hamza Hall, Amman
Jordan and Lebanon are two of the best teams in West Asia and are also neighboring countries. The players themselves are very familiar with each other as their careers frequently cross paths among the many tournaments they play. On the surface, this seems more like a friendly rivalry, but don’t be fooled. Jordan are hungry for a big win after their loss to Saudi Arabia in the previous window, while Lebanon would certainly want to keep their Asia basketball winning streak alive.
Iran vs Syria
Time: Saturday, February 27 – 17:00 GMT +3.5
Place: Azadi Basketball Hall, Tehran
This is another one of those “the-last-time-they-played-against-each-other” features, in which the last time Iran played against Syria at the Asia Cup Qualifiers, it ended up in a defeat for the mighty Team Melli. Iran qualified for the Asia Cup (and this World Cup Qualifiers) anyways, but so did Syria with that historic win being a big factor. Syria are coming off two losses in the first window, but if they can repeat the upset here in the second window, it would definitely get them back on track for World Cup qualification.
Of course, Iran won’t easily give that to them.
Saudi Arabia vs Indonesia
Time: Thursday, February 24 – 19:15 GMT +3)
Place: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah
This game right here might be the most important game for both teams and their World Cup qualification hopes and dreams. Saudi Arabia are heading into this window on a positive note having beaten Jordan at home in Window 1. If they can manage to beat Indonesia convincingly, it should put them in a good position to advance to the second round while holding on to a good record to qualify for the World Cup with. Indonesia, on the other hand, are coming in with two straight losses to Lebanon. They still have a chance to qualify as co-hosts for the World Cup at Asia Cup 2022 (if they can advance to the Quarter-Finals), but getting a win here in Window 2 to improve their chances of qualifying outright through the Asian Qualifiers would be a great safety net to have.