Saudi Arabia basketball team eyes 2021 FIBA Asia Cup after long qualifying road that began three years ago

Special Saudi Arabia basketball team eyes 2021 FIBA Asia Cup after long qualifying road that began three years ago
Saudi Arabia will face Palestine and India in the final round of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. (Twitter: @SPA_Spor)
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Updated 17 August 2021

Saudi Arabia basketball team eyes 2021 FIBA Asia Cup after long qualifying road that began three years ago

Saudi Arabia basketball team eyes 2021 FIBA Asia Cup after long qualifying road that began three years ago
  • Saudis will face Palestine and India in a mini tournament in Jeddah, with two places for next year’s finals in Indonesia up for grabs
  • The tournament has already been postponed twice and will now take place in July 2022

Saudi Arabia’s national basketball team will attempt to reach the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, to be held in Indonesia next year, when the final round of Qualifiers is held in Jeddah on Aug. 20-22.

The tournament has already been postponed twice and will now take place in July 2022.

Saudi Arabia will face Palestine and India in the final round of Qualifiers, which represents the last chance for three more teams to join the 13 that have already qualified.

The nations that have confirmed their place in the tournament are host Indonesia, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Syria, the Philippines, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Saudi’s last two matches against India on Friday, Aug. 20 and Palestine on Sunday, Aug. 22 (Palestine and India play on Saturday) will represent the end of a very long and often complicated qualifying process that has suffered from delays brought about the pandemic.

Saudi’s journey began in one of three Sub-Zone Pre-Qualifiers sections, where they faced the UAE, Bahrain and Oman in the Gulf group. After two rounds of matches (played in Manama and Dubai in February and June 2018, respectively), Saudi finished second in the table behind Bahrain.

This allowed the two teams to progress to the Western Region Pre-Qualifiers. This five-team tournament was held in Bahrain on Sept. 11-15, 2018, and Saudi Arabia managed to finish top of the standings ahead of Palestine, Bahrain, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, in that order.

In Round 1 of the Qualifiers, Saudi Arabia was placed in Group E with Iran, Syria and Qatar, with only the top two guaranteeing a place at 2021 FIBA Asian Cup in Indonesia.

With three wins and three losses, Saudi had an identical record to Syria but finished third behind their rivals because of the head-to-head results, with Iran winning the group.

Now Saudi has one last chance to reach Indonesia in Round 2 of the Qualifiers with Palestine and India, with the top two going through to the finals.