AFTER a runner-up finish in the 2011 Fiba-Asia Mens’ Championship, Jordan now teeters on the brink of elimination in the qualifier to next year’s World Basketball Championship.
Back-to-back losses to open their campaign, including a 71-77 setback to Gilas Pilipinas Friday night, put the Jordanians in a must-win situation against Saudi Arabia on the final day of the first-round preliminaries.
Only the top three teams from each Group will advance to the carry-over second round.
But coach Alexandris Evangelos believes his team has a very good chance of finally making the win column of Group A with a victory over the Arabians.
“We’re confident that against Saudi Arabia, we’ll be able to win and go to the next stage,” said Evangelos shortly after the loss against Gilas.
The Jordanians lost three key players in Sam Daghles, Zaid Abbas, and naturalized player Rasheim Wright who were members of the team that lost to China in a closely fought Finals in Wuhan, China two years ago.
But the Greek coach said there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
“In all sports, you must never get disappointed. We must try harder after every loss,” said Evangelos.
The fiery coach also gave credit to the good defensive job of Gilas Pilipinas big guard Gabe Norwood on Jordan’s naturalized player Jimmy Baxter, whom he held to just 14 points after the American exploded for 30 in a loss to Chinese Taipei on Thursday.
“Everybody knows Jimmy Baxter as our best scorer in the team. We know they will play and trap him. But Jimmy is not a selfish guy. He passes a lot, too,” said Evangelos, whose team squares off with fellow winless Saudi Arabia (0-2) at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.
In the absence of Daghles and Co., the Jordanians decided to rebuild the team behind seven-foot center Mohammed Hussein, playmakers Yacoub Al-Sous and Mahmoud Abdeen and 6-foot-7 outside sniper Mohammad Hadrab.