#FIBAAsia2015 Pre-Tournament Rankings FINAL!

The 2015 FIBA Asia Championship tips off tomorrow, September 23, and as your resident Asian basketball addict, I present to you these final rankings of the 16 teams already in Changsha, Hunan, China. These are based on their respective player compositions and preparations for the biennial tournament.

For this FINAL edition of the Pre-Tournament Rankings, I’ve decided to reserve the top eight spots for my expected quarterfinal teams. That’s a big reason why India and Korea have big jumps compared to the previous edition. Please keep this in mind as you read. 

Remember that 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.



So… let’s go.

1 - Iran (Group A)
- Samad Nikkhah Bahrami has rejoined coach Dirk Bauermann’s team, and they look mighty ready to dominate the field in Changsha. Iran will parade a big, solid team that brings it in every game. Winning the crown is not a sure thing yet, but make no mistake about it, Team Melli is the heavy favorite.

2 - China (Group C)
- Coach Gong Luming has a pretty formidable team, and definitely the biggest one out there. I mean, they have four guys standing at least 7’0 tall! They also have a young group of guys moving up from the squad that finished fifth in the 2014 Asian Games. If they can mature quickly, they should be the primary threats to Iran’s supremacy.

3 - Philippines (Group B)
- After a week of relative seclusion in Cebu, Gilas Pilipinas looks ripe and ready to be a prime challenger in Changsha. Andray Blatche has reportedly slimmed down a little bit and looks pretty lithe. Whether that’s true or not is still up in the air, but what’s certain is he’ll be one of the toughest match-ups in the tournament.

4 - Jordan (Group D)
- Not having Zaid Abbas definitely hurt this team in Manila, but the superb forward joins the team in China and should immediately make his presence felt. The absence of Ahmad Al-Dwairi in the middle is a concern, but fellow big man Mohammed Shaher Hussein has been solid, and Alex Legion should also help shore up the frontcourt for coach Rajko Toroman.

5 - Japan (Group A)
- Team Hayabusa will certainly be short on ceiling, but Japan will seek to offset that with their scoring punch in the backcourt. This should be one of the most fun teams to watch in China, what with speedsters Yuta Tabuse and Makoto Hiejima calling the shots and a plethora of snipers (e.g. Kosuke Kanamaru, Keijuro Matsui, Takatoshi Furukawa) patrolling the perimeter.

6 - South Korea (Group C)
- Korea has been hit with injuries and controversy, but this is still one solid team. Reports have come in that their collegiate call-ups have been doing well in practice, and that augurs well for their chances to advance from Group C and Group F. Coach Kim Dong-Kwang’s major task is to ensure that his wards are not distracted by the ongoing KBL season and the match-fixing investigations back home. 

7 - Taiwan (Group D)
- With Lin Chih-Chieh and Tseng Wen-Ting rested for the big tournament in Changsha, look for Chinese Taipei to flash great form and contend strongly for a spot in the final four. That is, of course, provided they can play at their expected level and advance from the Group of Death, where practically anything can happen.

8 - India (Group A)
- Yes, India are dark horses, but, on a good day, they can beat even a top-level team (just ask China). With Amrit Pal Singh and Amjyot Singh both back in the fold, and dangerous wingman Vishesh Bhriguvanshi in tow, India has some strong tools that can really make trouble for any opponent. They will have a tough time managing Group A, but they should still advance into the quarterfinals ahead of Palestine and Kuwait in Group E.

9 - Kazakhstan (Group D)
- The Kazakhs’ chances are hinged quite heavily on a healthy Jerry Johnson and veterans Anton Ponomarev, Dimo Klimov, and Dimitriy Gavrilov. Upstarts Anatoliy Kolesnikov and Pavel Ilin are ones to watch as well, but with such a stacked Group D and Group F, even the Snow Leopards’ collective talent level may not be enough to carry them through. 

10 - Lebanon (Group D)
- With Fadi El Khatib confirmed to miss the joust in Changsha, Lebanon will have to look to a young core of players to pick up the pieces. The explosive wingman Jay Youngblood will need to produce herculean numbers for this team to advance out of a very tough Group D and a nightmarish Group F, but if young guns like Amir Saoud, Ali Haidar, and Ahmad Ibrahim can play really well, anything can happen.

11 - Qatar (Group D)
- The Qatari squad is chock-full of veterans, but laden with a sprinkling of young talent. Without Yaseen Musa, there is still a leadership vacuum in this squad, but guys like Khalid Suliman Abdi and Daoud Musa Daoud should be able to step into that role with ease. Trey Johnson will also have to play at a very high level to match the intensity and production of the other naturalized players in Group D, and much will be expected from the likes of big men Mohammed Yousef and Erfan Ali Saeed. If any of those guys play below par, Al Annabi could be in for an early exit.  

12 - Palestine (Group B)
- While Palestine has lost a ton of tune-up games in the past couple of weeks, it’s still worth noting that they haven’t shied away from competition. With a relatively healthy and complete roster, this team should not be overlooked by any opposing squad in Changsha. If Sani Sakakini, Jamal Abu-Shamala, Ahmed Haroon, and Imad Qahwash all perform well, this is a sleeper quarterfinal team.

13 - Kuwait (Group B)
- This team’s lack of size will eventually be its downfall, especially if they advance to Group E against much bigger and tougher opposition. Kuwait officially has just one player standing taller than 6’5, and suffice to say that won’t cut it at this level.

14 - Hong Kong (Group B)
- Not much is coming out of Hong Kong about preparations for the FIBA Asia Championship, so it’s reasonable to suspect that they won’t fare as well as they did in 2013, when they managed to advance to the second round. What we know, though, is that a couple of key veterans — Fong Shin Yee and Lo Yi Ting — won’t be around to play, so the onus will be on Duncan Reid, Wong Chun Wai, and Lee Ki to lead this bunch, which probably won’t make any sort of splash in China.

15 - Malaysia (Group A)
- Malaysia was the second-best team in the 2015 SEABA Championship, but they’re young and raw. Coach Paul Advincula is still hoping they can perhaps spring an upset or two, but that is highly unlikely.

16 - Singapore (Group C)
- With barely have enough people to have a scrimmage in practice, coach Neo Beng Siang finds himself in an unenviable spot. This team was very far from being the strongest already, but hampered training has only served to make things even worse. 


Here is version 1.0 of the Pre-Tournament Rankings.

Here is version 2.0 of the Pre-Tournament Rankings.

Here is version 3.0 of the Pre-Tournament Rankings.

Here is version 4.0 of the Pre-Tournament Rankings.



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