Asian Qualifiers Power Rankings: Steppen Wolves on Top
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The upcoming months will be jam-packed with action for fans of basketball in Asia & Oceania. The third window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers will start on June 30 and end on July 4. Then the teams will only have a week before playing at FIBA Asia Cup 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia from July 12-14.
It seems like a pretty good time to check up on the teams with the first edition of the Power Rankings for the Asian Qualifiers!
|15||Times are a bit tough for Saudi Arabia. They won't have Mohammed Alsuwailem, who had been averaging a double-double in the Asian Qualifiers. They're going through a coaching change and coming off a less that desirable run through the GCC Games. Saudi Arabia still have plenty of talent to be a good team in the upcoming month, but their situation is not exactly ideal heading into two major competitions.|
|14||Similar to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain are also coming off a campaign in the GCC Games where they might have been able to do a bit more. However, Bahrain get a bit of an edge here as they are expected to be returning Muzamil Hamoda to the lineup. The last time that Hamoda played for Bahrain was at the Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers where he averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.|
|13||India had some bright spots in the second window of the Asian Qualifiers, but the fact still remains that they went winless in three games, losing by an average margin of 38.0 points per game. One thing could be going their way in this upcoming month is the promising play of their youngsters at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2018 SABA Qualifiers. Coach Matic has not been shy about utilizing young players, so maybe fans will see another gem unearthed in these next games.|
|12||Like India, Chinese Taipei have not yet recorded a victory in their first three Asian Qualifiers games, but there's a lot to like about where they are headed. In particular, it's been the all-around play of Will Artino who will be returning for Window 3 that should excite the fans for their upcoming games.|
|11||Syria are holding onto a win over Bahrain in the Asian Qualifiers, but that win is looking a little less impressive as Bahrain continues to find their ways. They'll get the chance to double down in a rematch against Bahrain in Window 3 and if they can upset Kazakhstan on July 4, we might regret putting Syria way down here.|
|10||Indonesia might have been ranked lower if this was based purely from Window 2 results, but a number of current events have nudged the them forward a bit. One of the big events was Indonesia fielding Marques Bolden and Derrick Michale Xzavierro in their recent Southeast Asian Games run. The two big men provided much needed height and muscle in the paint for Timnas, which allowed them to win their first ever gold medal in the competition. We might get to see how that looks in Asian Qualifiers competition when the team returns from another overseas training camp in Australia.|
|9||It might not seem fair to put Lebanon here at 9 as a loss to Jordan in Amman is not that bad of a loss. The Cedars will immediately get the chance to prove that there's nothing to worry about on July 1, the date of the rematch in Beirut. What's a bit more concerning is the recent injury suffered by Wael Arakji in the domestic league, even if seems like it might only be a light injury which won't take a lot of time to heal.|
|8||Japan have only one win so far after four games at the Asian Qualifiers, which doesn't exactly scream "impressive", but they are also might be a bit less concerned due to their qualified status as hosts. Nonetheless, some of the fresh faces like Luke Evans and Yudai Nishida have been impressive in these games, solidifying their spots in the rotation. Additionally, The Akatsuki Five get a slight bump up to this spot after announcing Yuta Watanabe and Yudai Baba as part of their Asia Cup 2022. The roster for Window 3 hasn't been annouced, but it could make things interesting if either Baba or Watanabe (or both!) make the cut.|
|7||While the faithful Philippines basketball fans might be in panic mode and frustrated after a string of disappointing results from the national team, it's not a situation that can't be fixed. Losing to New Zealand in Window 2 was not ideal and losing to Indonesia at the Southeast Asian Games didn't help either. Nonetheless, Gilas' talents are young and have plenty of room to learn and grow. There's no immediate pressure to qualify for the World Cup as the Philippines are one of the co-hosts, but there will certainly be pressure to get results in the games ahead.|
|6||Even after dominating Bahrain in the last game of Window 2, there's not much of a choice that peg Iran down a bit in the Power Rankings after losing at home to Kazakhstan. It's not the end of the world for Iran and Kazakhstan are a very good team, but it also makes it tough to put then higher as well, even if their preliminary roster for Window 3 seems to be a full force squad.|
|5||There isn't much that the Tall Blacks could have done better after winning their first three games of the Asian Qualifiers by 38.3 points per game. However, we're keeping them here at 5 for now, taking in consideration of what the other teams have announced in their preparation for the upcoming window.|
|4||It's been a while since we've seen China play, which was back in Window 1, but their performance against Japan in both games was impressive enough to leave us expecting more. The training camp roster listed by the CBA is a strong one led by Zhou Qi, which is also expected as they will be playing against Australia twice in Window 3.|
|3||Australia got rid of any concerns for a repeat of an upset at the hands of Japan in the previous window and left the Japan bubble with a 3-0 record. The Boomers get the bump to be among the top 3 in the Power Ranking here after announcing Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker as a part of their squad for Window 3. As mentioned above, they'll have two games against China, making it wise to bring some talented veterans along for the run.|
|2||Jordan are the only team in the top 5 of the Power Rankings with a loss, but that was way back in Window 1. That's old news. Their win against Lebanon in Window 2 made it easy to forget that loss, especially as they were able to field their go-to lineup of Freddy Ibrahim, Amin Abu Hawwas, Dar Tucker, Zaid Abbas, and Ahmad Al Dwairi. If this quintet are able to stay on the court together, Jordan will always be able to beat any team.|
|1||Is it possible that we're overreacting to a single game from Window 2? Maybe, but maybe it's not an overreaction to say that the Steppen Wolves are on Cloud Nine after securing that come-from-behind away win against Iran. Of course, it's not only because of the win that Kazakhstan are placed here. They're undefeated and one of the best three-point shooting teams in the entire qualifiers, even knocking down the most threes of the Asian Qualifiers in a single game (17 vs Bahrain) in the previous window.|
*The power rankings are entirely subjective based on recent events/results/announcements and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.
** Korea are disqualified from the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers , but will be playing at FIBA Asia Cup 2022.
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