“WORLD CUP IS OUR TARGET”
Dec 08, 2017
He has been there before, so Jordan basketball captain Zaid Abbas knows the monumental effort required to reach the sport’s World Cup.
But that is what all the fans have been talking about over the past fortnight since the Nashama recorded two stunning opening victories over Syria and Lebanon to launch their qualification campaign in the best way possible.
“We knew that two wins over Syria and Lebanon would give us a huge advantage, so that’s why we put so much time, effort and preparation into those two games,” said the 35-year-old veteran who is showing the sort of form that saw him star in Turkey seven years ago.
“Playing in a World Cup is an exceptional feeling, so I want to be in China in 2019 and we are all ready to fight to clinch our boarding passes!”
The 109-72 opening Group C win over Syria was followed up by the memorable 83-78 win over Lebanon in front of a packed Prince Hamzeh Hall that brought back memories of the Jordan basketball glory years.
India make up the rest of Group C and they will provide the next opponents in February before the return matches against the same three that will dictate who will advance.
“Facing each team home and away is not easy but if we continue to sell out our home games then the fans will make a huge difference for us. The crowd was exceptional against Lebanon and we knew we couldn’t let them down. They carried us through a very tough game.
“But the road to the World Cup is still long. Our players need to be involved in more overseas matches and play friendlies against big Asian teams to maintain and improve our standards.”
Abbas has been plying his trade in China since 2009 and believes it has helped him become a better player.
“It’s one of the strongest leagues in Asia. There are lots of NBA players in China and I'm so thankful to play against them. Playing with, and against, them has enriched my skills.” Abbas, who graduated in Business Administration, believes that his teammates can play in any professional league, and urged the world’s leagues to come shopping in Jordan for talent.
“We have a lot of talent in Jordan. The players need the chance to play in strong international club sides to improve. We have 12 players in the squad but I believe there are triple that number capable of a place so it makes for good competition for places.”
Few can forget that memorable World Cup run, and then the finals appearance in Turkey, and the nation will be willing on their heroes to do it again next time around.