The surprising summer of international basketball continued on Friday as Jordan shocked two-time reigning Asian champions Iran 88-84 to move into the semi-finals of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and eliminate continental giants Iran from even qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.

The first men’s Olympic qualifying tournament of the summer was the African championship in Madagascar, which provided the first shocker of the summer.

Angola, African champions in 10 of the last 11 tournaments dating back to 1989, dropped a group game against Senegal and had to come back from 11 down to Cameroon in the quarterfinals. Then in the final Tunisia upset Angola 67-56 thanks to Marouan Kechrid’s 21 points to book the automatic berth at London 2012.

Angola did make the Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament – along with Nigeria – but will have to fight for one of the three final berths against four strong European sides  Greece, Lithuania, Russia and Macedonia as well as Americas sides Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela (who leave Canada at home watching the London Games).

That leaves a seventh straight Olympic showing for Angola in real doubt.

EuroBasket in Lithuania had its share of surprises and a number of traditionally strong nations did not even make the qualifying tournament, among them Serbia, Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy – all at the expense of minnows Macedonia.

Another giant was added to the list of teams staying home next summer on Friday as Iran were shocked in the quarters by Jordan.

Iran have taken over China as the powerhouse on the continent – thanks to nagging injuries which forced Yao Ming to miss a number of tournaments for the Chinese. And much of the talk of teams from the one half of the FIBA Asia Championship bracket was to avoid Iran at all costs in the final eight.

A spot in the semis meant a team would have a great chance to move at least into the qualifying tournament. The Asian champions are guaranteed an Olympic berth with the second and third placed teams make the qualifiers.

But Iran pulled a Goliath to Jordan’s David as the Iranians could not stop Sam Daghlas, who had 23 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Jordan’s coach Tab Baldwin, who guided New Zealand to a miraculous fourth-placed finish at the 2002 World Championship, praised his point guard Daghles.

“(Before the game Daghles talked) about how the country has done so much for the players, and how it is their responsibility and they should be enthusiastic about the opportunity to pay something back, and this was the time to do that. And they did,” Baldwin was quoted on

Baldwin, who coached Lebanon at the 2010 Worlds, praised Iran’s strong past but said maybe it was their time.
“Iran has been dominant, certainly in West Asia, for the past four years. Coach (Veselin) Matic has done a great job, he is a great guy, the team is a bunch of great guys,” he said.

“It’s tough for them to go home now, not only when you have expectations on yourself, but everyone else has expectations on you. Condolences to those guys, but they have sent a lot of teams home in the past, so I guess it is their turn now.”

Matic for his part knew Jordan would be a fight but still is disappointed, adding: “We knew we were playing a tough team in Jordan. I am not happy with the result, all my players went out there to win, went out there to fight, and none of us are happy with this.”

The basketball gods have been busy this summer taking down some big teams. There is still basketball to be played this summer and then in 2012 there is room for more shocks at the qualifying tournament.



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