Falcons battle New Zealand for Olympic Qualification

In the FIBA World Cup showdown, the Jordanian National Team, lovingly known as the Falcons are ready to take center stage.

falcons basketball 
Jordan Vs New Zealand Basketball
(Photos: Amer Dweik, Jordan News)
In the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Falcons are putting in all they have against News Zealand, striving to secure the coveted Olympic Qualification card. اضافة اعلان

On Monday, the Falcons will face New Zealand at 11:45 AM local time in a game that will hold significant implications for the team. Taking place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, this fixture forms part of the second round of Group Three Match, a tournament scheduled to run until September 10.

All ready to go
Ahead of the match, the national team engaged in an evening training session at the "Ninoy Aquino" training facility, with all players participating enthusiastically. The players demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm to put behind their recent loss and to focus on the upcoming challenge against New Zealand. During this time, the medical team confirmed the readiness of Sami Bzai who has fully recovered from a minor knee injury sustained during the previous game against Greece.

The Falcons put up a commendable performance in their opening game despite falling to the Greek national team, ranked ninth globally, with a score line of 71-92. Meanwhile, the United States secured victory over New Zealand with a score of 99-72.

Consequently, the United States currently leads Group Three standings with two points, followed by Greece with a superior points differential. Both the Jordanian and New Zealand teams find themselves in third and fourth place respectively, each holding a single point.

The aspirations of Jordan and New Zealand for Olympic qualification
The coaching staff, led by Wesam Al-Sous and his assistants Mohammed Hamdan and Abdullah Abu Qura, consider their primary objective to be the historic achievement of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

They view this World Cup campaign as a crucial stepping stone towards realizing this dream, and the starting point is securing a victory against New Zealand. This win would significantly enhance Jordan's prospects for direct Olympic qualification, given the underwhelming performances and notable point differentials of Asian teams in the opening matches. As such, it's anticipated that Sous will continue to rely on Freddy Ibrahim's playmaking skills, complemented by the three-point prowess of Sami Bzai and the contribution of naturalized American player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Captain Zaid Abbas will be entrusted with rebounding and scoring under the basket, alongside Ahmed Al-Dwairi.

Bench players to play a more influential role
To optimize their chances, the coaching staff is keen for the bench players to play a more influential role in the match. In the previous game against Greece, the bench only contributed 6 points collectively. Notably, this bench includes impact players such as Zain Al-Najdawi, Ahmed Hamarsha, Mohammed Shaher, Ahmed Al-Hamouri, Malik Kanaan, Hashem Abbas, and Amin Abu Hawas.

On the other side of the equation, the New Zealand team enters this encounter brimming with confidence, thanks to their strong performance against the American team. During a press conference on the sidelines of their opening match, coach Pero Cameron stressed that this particular game serves as a significant test for his team, aiding them in preparing for their upcoming matches against both Jordan and Greece.

The New Zealanders are relying on a balanced combination of youthful talents and seasoned players.

Hollis-Jefferson, the naturalized player of the Jordanian team, shared in an interview with Sport Media that the players of the Falcons possess a competitive mentality. This mindset has facilitated their swift adaptation to the national team and the overall tournament environment. He further added, "I am ready to play in any position the coach needs me to. We still have many matches to play, and we need to approach them with confidence to rectify the errors from the first game. I am confident that we will exhibit an improved performance against New Zealand."

Meanwhile, Dwairi, a pivotal player for the national team, affirmed his and his teammates' readiness to take on New Zealand. He emphasized that the coaching staff has been diligently working to address the mistakes that were evident in the opening match against Greece. He stated, "We delivered a strong performance against Greece, even though we lost in the final quarter due to errors. Each match carries its unique circumstances and considerations. We know our objectives for today's match against New Zealand and are determined to achieve them."

Historical encounters between Jordan and New Zealand
The upcoming match between the Falcons and New Zealand marks their eighth encounter, both in friendly and official matches. The historical record leans in favor of New Zealand, who have secured four victories compared to Jordan's three since their inaugural friendly match on August 22, 2010. In that game, the national team emerged victorious with a score of 65-62.

The teams faced off in the quarter-finals of the Asia Cup on August 17, 2017, with New Zealand clinching a convincing win with a score of 98-70. The teams then traded victories in the World Cup qualification matches for China 2019. New Zealand triumphed over Jordan (95-69) on November 29, 2018. However, the national team bounced back with an (86-80) win against New Zealand on February 24, 2019.

During the recent past, New Zealand clinched a (83-75) victory over the national team on July 24, 2023, in the context of the Asia Cup. They repeated this success with a (100-72) win on August 29, 2022, during the World Cup qualifiers. In the most recent clash, the national team secured a (92-75) victory on November 13, 2022, in the same qualifiers. Notably, today's match marks their first encounter in the World Cup finals.

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