DUHOK, Iraq (11th WABA Championship / 26th FIBA Asia Championship): West Asian giants Iran earned the right to defend their FIBA Asia Championship gold medal at 26th FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan later this year, winning the 11th WABA Championship in Duhok Iraq during the week.
Jordan, bronze medalists behind Iran in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, and Syria also qualified for the 26th FIBA Asia Championship
Lebanon as the champions of the 3rd FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup last year had already qualified directly to the 26th FIBA Asia Championship, thus completing the quartet of WABA representation.
Iran began their campaign in Duhok with a hard-fought 72-70 win against Jordan on Thursday, but came back much stronger in the next two days to emerge triumphant.
Friday’s 83-62 win against Syria clinched Iran their ticket to Wuhan. A day later, Veselin Matic’s went about their business without much ado in beating Iraq 93-52 to complete a 3-0 wrap up of their engagements.
Jordan, who lost to Iran on the opening day, took a decisive step towards qualification beating Iraq 79-77 in a nerve-wracking game.
Playing under Tab Baldwin – who took over the team only a couple of days before the event – rounded off their outings beating Syria 92-75 and took the second place behind Iran.
Syria too played under a new coach – Mensur Bajramovic. But with the core of the National Team drawn from Al Jala’a, whom Bajramovic coached to Syrian D1 League triumph this year, there was no trouble for Syria to qualify.
They beat Iraq 92-85 on the opening day, and with the latter losing their other two games, Syria qualified despite failing to add to that opening victory.
Photo: File photo of the Iranian team celebrating their gold medal at the 25th FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin in 2009.