JAKARTA (Indonesia) – The roller coaster ride for Syria through the Asia Cup Qualifiers has ended. Now they are among the top teams of Asia that will be playing for the Asia Cup 2021 title. Syria has a unique history in the Asia Cup and will now get the chance to add on to those pages soon.

Let’s take a quick moment to meet Syria in this “Meet the Teams” series!

Stay tuned to all FIBA Asia Cup channels for the “Road to Asia Cup” series for each team as well!

World Rank according to FIBA World Ranking Presented by Nike: 92

By taking a quick glance at the World Ranking, one might come to a conclusion that Syria is slipping after having dropped two spots since the previous update. In taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, however, you’ll see that since the start of the Qualifiers back in 2019, Syria has shot up the ranking by as much as 10 spots.

Through all the complications and obstacles that Syria has faced throughout the years, they’ve been able to hang around inside the Top 100 of the standings… and qualify for Asia Cup 2021.

Asia Cup Debut: 1999

Syria got a good taste of Asia Cup basketball immediately in their first run, facing China in their very first Asia Cup contest.

Later in the Quarter-Finals, they’d face traditional powerhouses in Korea and Japan as well as Chinese Taipei. In summary, Syria’s first five games in the Asia Cup were against four of the top 5 teams in the final standings that year.

Quite a welcoming party.

Asia Cup Appearances (including 2021): 7

After playing in three straight Asia Cups since their debut, Syria has mostly been in and out of making appearances in the competition.

By qualifying for the Asia Cup this year, Syria will have made consecutive trips to the Asia Cup for the first time in nearly 20 years. While the country has had to face many struggles and hurdles over the years, their basketball spirit has always remained strong and that’s why they’ll be making their 7th Asia Cup appearance soon in Jakarta.

Most Recent Appearance: 2017

Asia Cup 2017 broke a six-year drought of appearances and they came prepared to compete. Led by Michel Madanly, they were a competitive group that none of the favorites wanted to face.

Syria proved its toughness as they battled against the likes of Jordan and China, both resulting in narrow margined losses. Their 81-79 loss to China might have left them at 10th place in the final standings, but they proved that they would not back down to anyone no matter what.

Best Position in Final Standings: 4th place (2001)

It’s doubtful that anyone saw it coming when Syria was able to barge all the way to the Semi-Finals in just their second Asia Cup back in 2001.

Madanly led the way (this is a recurring theme) for Syria as they made it through the Group Phase. They came so close to winning a historic medal, but suffered an unfortunate loss in overtime to Korea, 95-94.

Notable Player(s): Michel Madanly

You can’t talk about Syria basketball in the Asia Cup without talking about Michel Madanly. He’s always been the star of the team, featured as the face of the program for nearly two decades.

In 2007, he famously led the Asia Cup in scoring with 33.1 points per game, one of the highest-scoring averages in the history of the competition. That year, he had two games scoring 40 or more points and two other games scoring 30 or more points.

A decade later at Asia Cup 2017, Madanly was still up to his old tricks even at the age of 36. He wouldn’t end up as the leading scorer this time and have to settle for second place with “only” 20.5 points per game instead.

Current Outlook: Never Count Them Out

One thing that Syria has made sure teams realize throughout their time playing in the Asia Cup over the years is that you can never count them out. They’ve overcome the odds time and again, not only to play at a high level but to even play at all at times.

This was even clearer to see through the Asia Cup Qualifiers as they kept bouncing back from tough losses, just enough to claim Asia Cup qualification.

Now they’ll get the chance to put that “never say die” spirit on display once again against the best of Asia & Oceania in Jakarta at Asia Cup 2021.

FIBA

Via Fiba