BEIRUT (Lebanon) – Aside from being the qualifying competition for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, these Asian Qualifiers are also a stage for national teams to prove themselves. If you can bring you’re A-game when you go up against the best in Asia & Oceania, the fans will take notice.

Take for example, Japan’s inspiring turnaround in the 2019 Asian Qualifiers when they flipped a 4-game losing streak into an 8-game winning streak.

Which teams have the opportunity to prove themselves among the elite in these upcoming games of the second window?

Saudi Arabia

To be honest, Saudi Arabia might already have proven themselves worthy of being qualification contenders despite this being their first time in the playing field.

Their first two games in Window 1 was a tough one with two games against a strong Jordan squad that had qualified for World Cup 2019. Saudi Arabia were able to come away with an impressive win on their homecourt in Jeddah. While that victory might be the headline of their Window 1 run, the fact that they pushed Jordan to the final minutes in Amman in the first game was also quite impressive as well.

In this upcoming window, Saudi Arabia will have another chance to impress the fans once again when they host Lebanon, who are currently on an 8-game winning streak, on February 27. If they can secure  win here, it would certainly put them in a good position to advance to the Second Round and qualifying for the World Cup.

It certainly won’t be easy to beat Lebanon, but doing so would certainly turn some heads.

Syria

The previous window was a bit tough for Syria. Not only did they absorb two tough losses, they also lost in an emotional home game after having not played in Syria in such a long time. This leaves them winless to start the Qualifiers which is not exactly a great situation to be in, considering how competitive their group is already.

In the second window, however, Syria have a chance to get back on track and prove to everyone that they are still very much in the running for one of those desired qualification spots. They start the window with a game on February 24 against another winless squad, Bahrain. Getting a win here should be great for Syria’s momentum moving forward and they will need it.

The second game of the window will be where Syria can prove themselves as they face Iran on February 27. This is a rematch of the historic upset at the Asia Cup Qualifiers from back in late 2020, when Syria beat the mighty Team Melli, 77-70.

Syria have already proven once that they can take down an opponent like Iran. If they can do it again (especially with the game being played in Tehran), there shouldn’t be much more for Syria to prove.

India

India were close to missing this train towards World Cup qualification. They scraped their way through to a third-place finish in Group D of the Asia Cup Qualifiers and eventually secured a spot at the Asia Cup and  the World Cup Qualifiers when they bet Palestine at the Qualifying Tournament for Third Ranked Teams.

Now, they are in for quite a battle once again as they go up against New Zealand, Korea, and the Philippines in Group A of the Asian Qualifiers. This will definitely be no walk in the park, but it means that India will have an opportunity in every game to prove that they should be considered as a serious contender to advance.

There’s a fun mix of talented veterans and promising youngsters in India’s talent pool, so it might not be wise to count them out immediately as they prepare to play their first games of the second window.

India will be playing 4 games in the bubble situated in Manila. They play New Zealand on February 24 and 28, Philippines on 25, and Korea on 27.

Indonesia

Indonesia basketball has been all about proving themselves over these recent years.

Though Indonesia are co-hosts of World Cup 2023, they will only claim an immediate spot at the global event by proving themselves to be strong enough for the competition. The requirement for Indonesia to claim that spot is simple enough to explain, though not exactly as easy to achieve.

Indonesia can either qualify by making it to the Quarter-Finals of the Asia Cup (which will be played in July) or by making it through the World Cup Qualifiers.

Their start at the Asian Qualifiers, with two straight losses to Lebanon, wasn’t exactly ideal, but there is still time to turn things around. In this upcoming second window, Indonesia are set to play Saudi Arabia first on February 24 before facing Jordan on February 27.

These are definitely two tough games, but it just might be the best opportunity for Indonesia to make quite a statement about their World Cup qualifying chances.

Chinese Taipei

Chinese Taipei are among one of the most celebrated teams in Asia basketball history. However, their performances over the years have raised some concern whether they are in decline or not.

Many of the recognizable veterans have retired and while there are plenty of youngsters in the pipeline, Chinese Taipei still don’t have that signature win … yet.

They’ve done a good job of making it to the Asian Qualifiers by edging out Guam for the final spot, which now gives them the opportunity to go up against Japan and Australia in their first 3 games. These are not easy games in the Okinawa bubble as Chinese Taipei have two scheduled games against Australia on February 25 and 28, with a game against Japan on February 26 in the middle.

Still, the young guns of Chinese Taipei should be hungry, especially Lin Ting-Chien. Scoring a win or two in the Okinawa bubble would be a great way to prove that Chinese Taipei basketball are actually on the rise.

FIBA

Via Fiba