Fans of the Asia Cup will be able to see why they are one of the most improved teams in recent years in Jakarta. In this episode of “Meet the Teams,” allow us to take a moment to introduce Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s World Rank according to FIBA World Ranking: 80
What Saudi Arabia has accomplished in terms of global rankings is nothing short of remarkable. Their current Ranking position (80) represents a 14-spot increase from their starting position (94) before the Asia Cup Qualifiers. One of the biggest jumps among all the teams competing in the Asia Cup 2022 is that one.
They experienced the most increase in the Asia Ranking within the same period. They rose from 19 at the beginning of the Qualifiers to 13 overall.
Asia Cup Debut: 1989
When Saudi Arabia participated in the Asia Cup for the first time in 1989, and they were immediately paired with the Hosts, China, in the first round. Saudi Arabia also performed admirably to get to the quarterfinal round. They defeated Thailand and Singapore by double-digit margins. They then lost all of their subsequent matches in a group that included Korea, Chinese Taipei, and India. They ultimately defeated the Philippines in the race for seventh place.
Appearances in Asia Cup (including 2022): 9
Saudi Arabia has only participated in 8 Asia Cups to date; the 2022 edition will be their ninth. Saudi Arabia participated in 5 additional Asia Cups in a row after their 1989 debut. However, they haven’t been as good since 1999, making just two appearances in 2005 and 2013.
Best Finish: 3rd place (1999)
Saudi Arabia was one of the top teams throughout its earlier Asia Cup appearances, consistently finishing in the bottom ten in the Final Standings. Every year but one saw them go to the quarterfinals.
In addition, Saudi Arabia advanced twice in back-to-back Asia Cups—in 1997 and 1999—to the Semifinals. Saudi Arabia was devastated in 1997 because, despite being the host that year, they were unable to place on the podium, losing to China in the Third-place match.
They would eventually succeed in 1999. Saudi Arabia was scheduled to play Chinese Taipei in the Third-place matchup after once more reaching the Semi-Finals. They eliminated any doubt by winning 93-67 to win an Asia Cup medal for the first time.
Player to Watch: Marzouq Almuwallad
During the qualifiers for the Asia Cup 2022 and the World Cup 2023, one of the Saudi Arabian players who competed for the country in the Asia Cup 2013 has gradually begun to reappear in the lineup. Marzouq Almuwallad is that player.
With an average of 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2013, Marzouq was among Saudi Arabia’s best players. His best performance came against Thailand late in the competition, when he produced a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists.
Journey to Asia Cup
Saudi Arabia had to travel a long way to compete in the 2022 Asia Cup. They had to pass through the GBA Pre-Qualifiers, Western Region Pre-Qualifiers, and Asia Cup Qualifiers. In the end, the Qualifying Tournament for Third-Place Teams of the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
They’ve had great success down that road. Saudi Arabia defeated both Palestine and India in the Qualifying Tournament for Third-place Teams. They eventually secured their position among the 16 teams competing in the Asia Cup. Saudi was unable to qualify directly due to being paired with Iran and Syria.
Of all the teams competing, their journey to the Asia Cup was by far the longest. But this only serves to highlight how much they merit their place in Jakarta for their perseverance.