BEIRUT (Lebanon) – The FIBA Basketball World Cup. It’s the most prestigious basketball competition around, where the grand prize – the World Cup – is competed for between the top national teams in the world.
Merely making it to the World Cup stage is one of the highest achievements that a player can accomplish. With the World Cup 2023 Qualifiers coming up, 14 teams from the Asia & Oceania region will have their chance to make it to the grand stage 2 years from now – with two more already waiting to play as hosts of the competition.
Here’s the case for each of the teams (in alphabetical order) to qualify for the main event!
Why they can qualify: Talent pool deeper than that the Great Barrier Reef
Fresh off a bronze medal run at the Tokyo Olympics, it’s tough to see how the Boomers will fail to claim their spot at the World Cup.
Even though there might be limitations for Australia to utilize their NBA talents effectively throughout all the windows, there’s plenty of quality in the deep Boomers talent pool to call upon. Players like Mitch Creek and Nick Kay emerged as key contributors in the long run for the Boomers in the last World Cup Qualifiers and you can be sure to expect more to make a name for themselves during this run.
Why they can qualify: Proven coach and young rising star
This is their first time in the World Cup Qualifiers and they’ve never been to the World Cup. But trust us when we say that Bahrain are on the rise.
They are coached by Sam Vincent who already has experience coaching in the World Cup (and Women’s World Cup) with Nigeria, so they are in good hands. The up-and-coming squad has some fine young talents, most notably, 19-year-old Muzamil Ameer Hamoda who will soon be playing his freshman season in the NCAA with Utah State.
Why they can qualify: Size matters and the tradition is strong
China have long been one of the top teams of Asia. Among all teams in Asia, they have the most World Cup appearances so far. Despite a blip of missing out World Cup 2014 and the recent Tokyo Olympics, China has regularly been there at the biggest stage.
There’s plenty of talent in China to fill up their roster from seasoned stars like Yi Jianlian to rising stars like Zeng Fanbo. Combine that talent with the strong tradition of China basketball and fans should feel optimistic about the chances of qualifying.
One of the bigger advantages that China has also always had is in size. With taller players consistently in their lineup, it sometimes makes it a bit easier to score as we saw in the Asia Cup Qualifiers when they led all teams with 52.5 percent shooting from the field.
Why they can qualify: New Wave ready to hit the shore
There’s a new wave of entertaining, young talents in the Chinese Taipei national team talent pool. Lin Ting-Chien has already proven to be a talent to watch by propelling Chinese Taipei to the Asia Cup and the World Cup Qualifiers with his stellar debut, so who is to say that he can’t conjure some more magic once again.
Chinese Taipei haven’t been to the World Cup in over 60 years, so it would be magical indeed if this would be the year.
Why they can qualify: Nice blend of season(ed vets) and spice(y youngsters)
When you have a coach with as much experience at the global level as Veselin Matic as India does, that’s always a good start. Whether it’s in Asia or Europe, Matic has played a role in a World Cup level team, and that experience is what can nudge India to the next level.
They also benefit from having an exciting group of young talents on board, whether it’s Princepal Singh, Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon, to go along with a well-rounded group of veterans like Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amjyot Singh.
India has also been shooting well from beyond the arc, coming in at 3rd in the Asia Cup Qualifiers at 38.5 percent, and that could be what helps their case of World Cup qualification.
Why they can qualify: Maximum effort and more to maximize potential
Though Indonesia are co-hosts of the World Cup, they still have some work to do to claim their spots alongside Japan and the Philippines.
They’ll need all the firepower that they can get their hands on and the program has been busy in doing so. Whether it’s having the national team play in the domestic league or the introduction of new talents into the roster, Indonesia have shown that they are going to push at more than 110% of their powers to make this happen.
Sometimes, that’s just what it takes.
Why they can qualify: Hamed is still the Ha-Daddy (and the next generation is pretty darn good, too)
Team Melli have been to three straight World Cups. Hamed Haddadi is still center (pun shamelessly intended) and present. Young talents like Behnam Yakhchali are emerging as superstars, ready to take the flaming torch from their senior teammates.
Iran’s case for qualifying for a fourth straight World Cup seems pretty solid.
Why they can qualify: Three points is more than two (and benefits of being co-hosts)
Well, they are the co-hosts of the entire event. That seems like a pretty strong case.
Even without their status as co-hosts, Japan would have a pretty strong case as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the Asia Cup Qualifiers to qualify. At a 41.8 percent shooting clip from behind the three-point line, it’s tough to imagine how they wouldn’t advance.
Why they can qualify: Young core that’s been there, experienced that
Jordan has an exciting young core led by Freddy Ibrahim that has tasted the level of play at the World Cup. We’ve seen him (as well as his teammates) improve in their level of play since China 2019, especially through the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
They are also a tough, rugged team that tied for the most rebounds through the Asia Cup Qualifiers at 49.2 per game so that should help their case as World Cup Qualifying contenders as well.
Why they can qualify: “Steppen Wolves” moniker needs it’s World Cup spotlight (and lots of offensive rebounding)
The case for Kazakhstan to make the World Cup is that a moniker for a team like “Steppen Wolves” deserves to be highlighted at the global stage.
Jokes aside, Kazakhstan are a solid team and strong team that muscled their way to averaging the second most offensive rebounds at the Asia Cup Qualifiers at 32.2 per game. It’ll be tough to find a team as rugged and physical in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers and that’s what could push them through to their first World Cup.
Why they can qualify: A lot of their possessions end up in made shots ¯_(ツ)_/¯
No other team in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers moves the ball with more precision and efficiency than Korea and that’s their case for World Cup qualification.
They led the Asia Cup Qualifiers in both assists (25.3 per game) and Assists per Turnover (2.3). That’s how they win games – by making you pray that miss a shot because they aren’t going to give it to you that easily. Of course, they also shot 48.0 percent from the field which was 3rd best among all teams at the Asia Cup Qualifiers so…
Why they can qualify: No one wants to come between a team on a revenge tour
We could say that the case for Lebanon is that they were one of the best offensive teams at the Qualifiers with 99.5 points per game. We could say that they are an up-and-coming enthusiastic young team with exciting talents like Wael Arakji, Sergio El Darwich, and Karim Zeinoun.
We could say a lot of things.
However, it’s the fact that Lebanon will certainly have a chip on their shoulder to qualify for the World Cup after narrowly missing out in 2019 that should be the strongest case for them. This team will be hungry.
Why they can qualify: Solid backcourt building up on momentum of historic upset
Here’s the thing with the Tall Blacks: they haven’t missed a World Cup since the turn of the millennium. Their young backcourt is playing with plenty of promise, especially during the Asia Cup Qualifiers, which seems to suggest a strong case for another appearance in 2023.
To be honest, wouldn’t it be a shame if New Zealand went through all the trouble of historically upsetting Australia in Australia (as they did in the Asia Cup Qualifiers) only to not make it to the World Cup?
Why they can qualify: It’s always been the plan for this young Gilas squad (but sure, being co-hosts helps)
The case for the Philippines is that the World Cup Final will be played in Manila aka they are co-hosting the event, so that’s as solid as a case as you can get.
Nonetheless, the recent play of the very young Gilas squad would make a good case for them to make it through even without their co-host status. What’s even more impressive is that, for a team this relied on young players throughout the Asia Cup Qualifiers, they averaged the least amount of turnovers among all teams at 2.0 per game.
Coach Tab Baldwin is most certainly very, very proud.
Why they can qualify: They can run you out of the gym and block your shots, too
They’ve never played in the World Cup and never played in a World Cup Qualifier, but Saudi Arabia sure plays like a team that is madly determined to do so. They play at an intense pace on both ends of the floor which may seem chaotic at times, but could be the strength that makes their case as World Cup qualification contenders.
Moreover, when things slow down on defense, they – or specifically Mohammed Alsuwailem – is ready to swat all shot attempts directed their way. The Mean Green Machine led all Asia Cup Qualifiers teams with 5.0 blocks per content.
Why they can qualify: Passion and determination
The fact that Syria are here through all the turmoil they’ve been through, playing basketball at the level to contend for World Cup Qualification, speaks volumes about how passionate they are about the game. That’s why they might be one of the teams that teams might want to avoid if they can.
Case in point, their upset win over Iran in the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
With a coach like Joe Salerno and a unique cast of talents across the lineup, it’s their determination and passion that makes them a team that can qualify for their first ever World Cup.