AMMAN (Jordan) – After the first day of this final stretch in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, the situation in Groups E and F is taking shape.

Among the highlights in the first gameday includes an overtime clash and another team to punch in their ticket to Asia Cup 2021.

The first game of the day was a highlighted clash between Syria and Saudi Arabia. The two teams were already headed into the game tied up with records of two wins and two losses, meaning they were both neck and neck in contention for direct Asia Cup Qualification tickets. They had already engaged in an overtime showdown back in February 2020 which Syria came out on top, so it seemed highly likely that it would be a close game once again.

That proved true as the two teams were unable to decide a victor in the first 40 minutes of the contest, with the score knotted at 69-69. Saudi Arabia eventually came out on top with the revenge victory, outscoring Syria in the overtime period.

Saudi Arabia looked as if they were ready to shut the game down when they started the 4th quarter with an 8-0 run. However, Syria was just not ready to accept defeat and tied the game with 50 seconds left on a three-pointer by Anas Shaban.

The overtime session continued in the same manner with both teams trading punches back and forth. Syria even took the lead at 76-75 with just over a minute left, but Saudi Arabia had one more knock-out swing left in them. It came from Nassir Abo Jalas who would make his only shot attempt of the game – a three-pointer – at the perfect time to give Saudi Arabia the lead for good at 78-75.

The lead switched hands a total of 18 times before coming to the final verdict.

Saudi Arabia enjoyed a balanced offensive effort from Khalid Abdel Gabbar (21 points), Mathna Almarwani (15 points), Mohammed Almarwani (14 points), and Mohammed Alsuwailem (13 points). In particular, it was Alsuwailem who stood out with 13 rebounds and 5 blocks as well.

The overtime session continued in the same manner with both teams trading punches back and forth. Syria even took the lead at 76-75 with just over a minute left, but Saudi Arabia had one more knock out swing left in them. It came from Nassir Abo Jalas who would make his only shot attempt of the game – a three-pointer – at the perfect time to give Saudi Arabia the lead for good at 78-75.

The lead switched hands a total of 18 times before coming to the final verdict.

Saudi Arabia enjoyed a balanced offensive effort from Khalid Abdel Gabbar (21 points), Mathna Almarwani (15 points), Mohammed Almarwani (14 points), and Mohammed Alsuwailem (13 points). In particular, it was Alsuwailem who stood out with 13 rebounds and 5 blocks as well.

 

The loss spoiled a positive debut for Syria’s Douglas Herring who had 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

Iran had an easier path on their way to a win over Qatar, breaking away after an 8-0 run in the first quarter and never looking back. The lead ballooned to as much as 38 points, as was the deficit in the final score of 84-46.

All but one player got on the scoreboard for Iran, led by 16 points for the veteran Samad Nikkah Bahrami. They shot 53 percent as a team while holding Qatar to only 29.5 percent shooting from the floor.

The win clinched a direct qualification ticket for Iran from Group E, making them the fourth team so far in the Qualifiers. They join Lebanon, Bahrain, and Indonesia as the teams that fans will be seeing at Asia Cup 2021.

 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has the upper hand on claiming the remaining ticket in the group with a 3-2 record over Syria. However, that won’t be decided until the final games of the group are played.

In the final game of the day, Palestine was unable to keep up with Jordan’s depth and firepower and had to take in a 88-77 defeat.

Jordan came out of the gates on fire, leading 17-3 through the first six minutes of the game. However, the neighboring rivals ended up engaging in a closely contested first half as Palestine rallied back.

Jordan was able to build up a sizable lead in the second half, anchored by the performance of their bench players. They enjoyed a 27-1 advantage over Palestine in bench player scoring, led by Ahmad Al Dwairi who had 20 points. Freddy Ibrahim (17 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) and Sami Bzai (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) were also among the big-time contributors in this win.

 

Palestine tried to go toe-to-toe with their opponents and was able to do so for some parts of the game off the performance of their two-star players. Both Sani Sakakini and Kyndall Dykes started the game off a bit sluggish, but eventually ended up as the top two scorers of the game. Sakakini flirted with a triple-double, compiling 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists. Meanwhile, Dykes poured in 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Jordan remains undefeated through the Qualifiers with a 3-0 record following this win. Palestine, drop to 2-3 and will have a chance to avenge their loss in a rematch on June 14.

FIBA

Via Fiba