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Tale of Three FIBA Asia Cup Final Debuts

   Tale of Three FIBA Asia Cup Final Debuts

June 28, 2020

Before the 21st century, the FIBA Asia Cup was dominated by East Asia. Since the beginning of the
play-off system that culminated in a championship game, only China, Korea, DPR Korea, or Japan
were in contention. The signs of a looming change were visible when Iran and Saudi Arabia began
making their way to the semis. Then, when Lebanon made it to the finals in 2001, it was official the
west had awakened. Including that year, up to three teams made their Asia Cup Finals debuts in
the continental competition. Here, we look at the three teams’ run-in to their first appearance of
their FIBA Asia Cup title.   

Who are the three FIBA Asia Cup Final Debutants?

● Lebanon – advanced to the Asia Cup first final in 2001.
● Iran-Reached the first final in the Asia Cup in 2007.
● Jordan - reached the Asia Cup for the first time in 2011.

The Road to the Finals and After Effects


Lebanon had a tough journey to the 2001 finals. In the opening game, Fadi El Khatib had to rise to
the occasion with 27 points to see off UAE with a narrow 70-69 win. They couldn’t beat Korea in
the next game and had to a tough quarter-final against China, Taipei, and Japan. They had their
backs on the wall when they lost to China but managed to turn things around.

They went on to beat Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea. The win against Korea was the most
gratifying as it was great revenge for their earlier group stage loss. This win that was spearheaded
by Rony Fahed took the team to their first Asia Cup Final.

They could not go past the Great Wall of China in the finals. They lost 97-63 after being outclassed
by China. Since their debut, Lebanon has built on their success and have since made it to two
more Asia Cup Finals.


Iran’s build-up to the finals in 2007 was not so challenging. In most matches, they managed the
minutes played by their stars well to keep them fresh for the tournament. They cruised past their
opponents with narrow wins save for Lebanon who crushed them 82-60 in the quarters.

The loss was a blessing in disguise as it gave them a favorable semi-final encounter against
Kazakhstan. They later advanced to their first-ever Asia Cup Final.

They won the tightly contested final against Lebanon in a narrow 74-63 win. After this win, they
did not look back; they have positioned themselves as giants in the Asian Cup. They have since
added two more cups to their trophy cabinet.


Jordan went into the 2011 tournament, knowing they were well able to win it all. But, they had a
weak start to the tournament as they played below the expected standards. They squeezed
through to the semi-finals after suffering three defeats in the opening six games. They lost to Japan,
the Philippines, and China. 

They had a tough quarter-final match against two-time defending champions, Iran. Iran was in the
form of their life with a 17-game unbeaten run stretching back to their 2007 tournament run.

Jordan had also tasted defeat in the hands of Iran in the 2009 semi-finals.

Jordan put in a master class of performance to flip the script and beat the tournament’s top
favorites in the fourth quarter. They kept the momentum to cruise past the semis to reach their first
final. They met China in a closely contested final. They couldn’t cruise past China.

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