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IRI - Jordan fail to impress but advance

TEHRAN (FIBA Asia Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Iran underlined their status as a leading team in Asia by going unbeaten at the 13th WABA Championship over the weekend.

The way Iran’s national side has played in recent times, their success against Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon will have come as no surprise.

Iran coach Memi Becirovic will know that bigger tests for his team will be this summer in the Philippines at the FIBA Asia Championship.

"The main intention for us is to get a medal in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship and this tournament was mostly a good preparation for those games," Becirovic said.

There are, perhaps, bigger questions about Jordan and Lebanon as they look ahead to the big event in Manila, one that will serve as a qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Lebanon finished runners-up to Iran after falling to them in overtime on the last day, 100-86, while Jordan came in third.

The teams did enough to secure their places at the FIBA Asia Championship.

Jordan were the team that upset Iran in the Quarter-Finals of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and almost shocked hosts China to clinch a spot in the London Games.

They then suffered two heavy defeats at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) to Greece and Puerto Rico.

At the WABA, Iran hammered Jordan in their opener, 93-55, and Lebanon beat them on Day 2, 98-89.

Jordan sealed their spot in the FIBA Asia Championship with an 86-80 win over Iraq.

"Qualifying for 27th FIBA Asia Championship was really important for us," Jordan point guard Wesam Alsous said.

"Last time, we finished in the second spot (at the 26th FIBA Asia Championship at Wuhan, China in 2011) and we couldn’t just let this chance go.

"We played really bad against Iran, but had a good show against Lebanon.

"In the end, we played well against Iraq who also were fighting for the last chance like us (to qualify) and haven’t been in Asian championships for years.

"As this region (WABA) is getting really strong, things are getting harder for teams to come up and get the ticket for FIBA Asia Championship."

Wesam had 30 points, four assists and five rebounds in the victory over Iraq.

Jordan may not be at their best right now, but they have proved on other occasions, including two years ago in Wuhan when overcoming a bad start to reach the Final, that they can evolve into a tough team.

Perhaps the best development of all for Jordan at the WABA was that Rasheim Wright, one of the side's best players the past several years who didn't feature at the OQT in Caracas, played in all three games.

In his first appearance for Jordan since the FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, he made just one of his nine shots from the field against Iran.

Wright missed all six of his shots from the floor in the loss to Lebanon, but did finished with four assists and nine rebounds.

He was marginally better on Day 3 against Iraq, making four of 14 field goal attempts and scoring nine points.

There is plenty of time for Wright, and Jordan, to find their stride and make a serious run at qualifying for the World Cup.

Wesam added: "We haven’t had much action since summer play basketball in Jordan and our league will commence only in a few days.

"We didn’t play any other international games.

"So this was our first games in six months and we were really out of shape. This is why we played awful at first."



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