#FIBAAsia2015 Pre-Tournament Rankings 2.0

In every week leading up to the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, tipping off on September 23, your resident Asian basketball addict will be ranking the 16 teams bound for Changsha, China, based on their respective player compositions and preparations for the biennial tournament.

Though these rankings are entirely the opinion of one man and have no mathematical or theoretical grounding, keep in mind that player injuries, eligibility issues, training camp reports, and pre-tournament game results will all have considerable impact.

Let's look at this second edition of the rankings.

1 - Iran (Group A) 
- Iran is the defending champion. Team Melli is expected to be very strong again this year with the same old faces doing the same amount of damage to their foes. Yes, Iran got beaten by China’s B Team twice a couple of weeks ago, but they have remained healthy as of late. They’re also fresh from a training camp in Germany and will be one of the favorites in the 2015 William Jones Cup.

2 - China (Group C)
- China has been training since March, and the injuries might be taking a toll. As of now, star player Yi Jianlian is still resting and has not yet rejoined the team. Still, this team maybe has the biggest size in the field, and they have homecourt advantage throughout the entire tournament. China is renowned for playing a notch or two better at home, so they are in great shape.

3 - South Korea (Group C)
- The Koreans recently went 1-1 against Chinese Taipei in two tune-up games. They benched some of their big guns in the first game and lost by 3, but then proceeded to blow Taiwan out in the second game with a more complete set of players. As always, Korea’s strengths are its depth and consistency, and these will be in full display as they also join the 2015 Jones Cup.

4 - Philippines (Group B)
- Despite half of the team that played in the 2014 FIBA World Cup missing, the Philippines got a big boost this past week with the possibility of LA Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson suiting up. Their trip to Estonia also yielded a lot of learnings, though they did lose all three of their tune-up games. Momentum seems to have swung, and things are improving for Gilas Pilipinas.

5 - Taiwan (Group D)
- A win over the Koreans should do wonders for Taiwan’s current level of confidence. They look relatively healthy, too, and with Lu Cheng-Ju back in the fold after skipping their Korean trip, the team looks primed and ready to contend for the title in the Jones Cup. One knock, however, is the possibility that this may be star playmaker Lin Chih-Chieh’s final campaign with the national team.

6 - Kazakhstan (Group D)
- The Snow Leopards are currently in Lithuania for their training camp and tune-up games. Big things are expected from this team after they finished among the top four in last year’s Asian Games WITHOUT naturalized guard Jerry Johnson. With him back in the fold and with training in full swing, things should continue to look up for the Kazakhs.

7 - Lebanon (Group D)
- Loren Woods has been the confirmed naturalized player for the Cedars, and he has been looking solid in their last couple of tune-up games in Europe. This dampens the worries connected to his age and the fact he is fresh from an injury that sidelined him for much of the past LBL season. The rumors are about Fadi El Khatib’s having trouble securing a release from his CBA squad persists, though.

8 - Japan (Group A)
- There is palpable excitement about this Japanese team, especially with former NBA player Yuta Tabuse leading the pack. Good results against a Czech Republic select team augur well for the team, and an intact core will be critical in their Jones Cup campaign this week. Not having star big man Kosuke Takeuchi still hurts, though.

9 - Jordan (Group C)
- Coach Rajko Toroman had to cancel an international training camp for his boys because of budget constraints, but that doesn’t mean Jordan won’t be a force to be reckoned with. With veterans Zaid Abbas and Sam Daghlas back to lead the team, look for Al Nashama to be a tough nut to crack again this year.

10 - Qatar (Group D)
- Iconic player Yaseen Musa has officially retired and top local PG Mansour El Hadary still doesn’t look fit enough from his ligament tear injury. Tired old veterans like Erfan Ali Saeed and Daoud Musa Daoud will have to carry the slack along with emerging scorer Khalid Suliman Abdi and returning naturalized player Trey Johnson, who looks half a step slower than he used to be.

11 - Palestine (Group B)
- I’m excited to see the Palestinians play in their first ever FIBA Asia Championship, but I’m not too excited about their chances. They are good enough to place second in Group B, but every game after that is going to be a major uphill battle. With Omar Krayem and Nicola Fadayel back in the team, however, this may just be the best Palestine team ever assembled.

12 - India (Group A)
- India was supposed to explode into prominence this year, but the departure of Scott Flemming and Satnam Singh Bhamara’s decision to focus on his NBA prospects both cast a shadow over India’s chances of making a dent in #FIBAAsia2015. Still, if the terrific trio of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot Singh, and Amrit Pal Singh can play really well, anything can happen.

13 - Kuwait (Group B)
- Nothing much from this Gulf nation, but their not-so-bad showing in the 2014 Asian Games promises that they will be, at the very least, a competitive bunch who should still make it out of Group B ahead of…

14 - Hong Kong (Group B)
- Even at full strength, Hong Kong would have a lot of trouble in Group B, but I’m not even sure if key guys like Lo Yi Ting and Lee Ki will play. Needless to say, Hong Kong will not be expected to make any ripples in the big tournament.

15 - Singapore (Group C)
- Fresh winning the bronze medal in the 2014 SEA Games, Singapore’s confidence is at an all-time high. That, however, will not be enough for them to beat any team in Group C. 

16 - Malaysia (Group A)
- Filipino coach Paul Advincula recently proclaimed that his boys are ready and won’t back down from any challenge in #FIBAAsia2015. That’s a good attitude to have for a team that, in all possibility, may finish dead last.

Here is version 1.0 of the Pre-Tournament Rankings.





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