Making history towards Semi-Finals: Jordan, Lebanon take down powerhouses Iran, China

JAKARTA (Indonesia) – The Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 started with a bang as Jordan beat Iran for the first time in Asia Cup since 2011 while Lebanon claimed their first ever Asia Cup win against China.

In the game that was tightly contested until only the last stretch, Jordan secured their biggest win ever over Iran, 91-76.

Jordan actually led for most of the game, powered by a strong start from Ahmad Al Dwairi. However, Iran put their former Asia Cup champions spirit on display by making a run to claim the lead late in the third quarter which was highlighted by a three-pointer by Hamed Haddadi.

In the final 10 minutes, Jordan put their defensive chops on display as they kept Iran scoreless for nearly 7 minutes to seal the win.

Aldwairi continues his dominant run through the Asia Cup with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. Dar Tucker rolls on with his scoring, adding 29 points in this game. After knocking down a buzzer-beating game-winner, Freddy Ibrahim also continues to play with confidence, putting up 23 points for Jordan.

Hamed Haddadi’s eight Asia Cup comes to a close, though not before was able to put up another big game of 19 points and 16 rebounds. Mohammad Jamshidi led Iran with 23 points while Behnam Yakhchali had 18.

The win advances Jordan to the Semi-Finals for the first time since 2011. They also beat Iran in the Quarter-Finals that year before making it all the way to the Final.

For Iran, it will only be the second time since 2007 that they have failed to reach the Semi-Finals.

Lebanon withstood a furious comeback effort by China to claim their first win ever in the Asia Cup over the 16-time champions, 72-69.

The Cedars led through most of the game with Wael Arakji having a strong start of 25 points in the first half. Lebanon were able to built up a lead as big as 16 points in the third quarter.

However, with Arakji hampered with foul trouble, China were able to make a strong comeback. They would even take the lead in the waning minutes of the game before coming just short of the win.

Arakji led Lebanon with a personal Asia Cup-high of 32 points, doing so efficiently by shooting 13-22 from the field. Jonathan Arledge also made clutch plays on both ends of the floor and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

After limiting Zhou Qi’s minutes for most of the Asia Cup, China unleashed their superstar and he responded with 22 points, 21 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Aside from being the first ever Asia Cup win for Lebanon over China, it is also the first time for Lebanon making the Semi-Finals since 2009.

This is the first time ever in the Asia Cup that China have failed to reach the Quarter-Finals in back-to-back Asia Cups.

Lebanon and Jordan will now face each other in the Semi-Finals.

Turning Points

It’s a bit unbelievable to look back at and see Iran being on the wrong end of a 17-0 late run in such an important game. Much of the credit goes to Jordan’s defense, but the defining dagger for Jordan goes to the thee pointer by Dar Tucker with less than 3 minutes to go.

The game between China and Lebanon was a clash of epic twists and turns from Xu Jie’s three-point shooting to Hayk Gyokchyan’s three-pointer, but the biggest moment was Arakji’s spin cycle crossover into his patented floater. Epic move, epic player, and epic finish.

Game Heroes

The hero for Jordan in this game just had to be Ahmad Al Dwairi. Jordan might have any scorers and playmakers, but it’s Al Dwairi that holds this defense together. The stats back this up as well as he had 3 steals and 3 blocks. To do all of that while going up against a legend like Hamed Haddadi as well? Easy lock.

Arakji has his moments and numbers, but the unsung hero here was Arledge who iced the game with two clutch free throws and sealed the door shut for China with a buzzer-beating block.

Stats don’t lie

Iran have had worse days scoring (they shot at a lower percentage against Syria even), but they’ve yet to allow an opponent to shot higher than 50 percent from the field… until this loss to Jordan where the Falcons shot 52.3 percent.

Between China and Lebanon, the big fact was the difference in turnovers. Lebanon committed only 8 turnovers while China committed 22 turnovers which Lebanon converted into 22 points. Tough to win a game like that, even if China nearly did so.

They said

“We’re writing history for the country… we did it as a team as a unit and this is the most important thing.” – Wael Arakji, Lebanon

“When you have a player and leader like Wael [Arakji], you cannot aim low. You have to aim high.” – Jad El Hajj, Lebanon Head Coach