FIBA 2023 World Cup: Analysing The Jordan Roster

With the 19th edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup beginning on August 25th, there follows a look at the rosters for each of the 32 teams taking part. This instalment looks at the team from Jordan, who were in only their third-ever World Cup and finished in last place, but who are a growth nation in the game.

Malek Kanaan

  • PG – 6’0 – Born 7th February 1993
  • Al Riyadi, Jordan

The great difficulty with assessing some Jordanian players is, if they have only ever played in their home nation, there can be a shortage of game footage available with which to make any evaluations. Even after several efforts on Google Translate trying to identify the relevant team and player names in Arabic, there is sometimes not a whole lot to find. And this is true of Kanaan, who, it appears, has only ever played in his homeland, where he averaged 10.2 points, 6.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 2022/23. From what can be found, it appears that Kanaan is a small yet unselfish pass-first guard and pick-and-roller operator who is not a great shooter; given that he has never had a big role in any international tournament – nor stood out in his small ones – it is hard to see a future for him outside of what he is already doing. Whatever that is.

Freddy Ibrahim

  • PG – 6’3 – Born 14th October 1996
  • Al-Ahli, Jordan

Canadian/Jordanian citizen Ibrahim graduated from Division II Tampa in 2019, and has put in some mileage since then. He has played in both of his countries of citizenship, alongside stints in Saudi Arabia and Palestine, and averaged 19.8 points and 9.6 assists per game in Jordanian league play last season. Crafty off the dribble and very keen to push the tempo, Ibrahim has a dominant share of the ball when he is in the game, hits a roll man, and is very willing to pull up from wherever he can get to. The size, athleticism and strength of his matched-up defenders, however, spikes significantly once he leaves the Middle East, and that can be a problem.

Ahmad Hammouri

  • SG – 6’3 – Born 1th July 2003
  • Western High School, United States

Harder to find than Jordanian Premier League footage is high school footage, which from a safeguarding point of view seems entirely fair. The stats are not easy to come by, either. And with only a few garbage-time minutes to report in his World Cup run, nothing of substance can be evaluated from that, either. Nevertheless, from high school to defending Austin Reaves and Jalen Brunson in only a couple of months must have been quite the experience for the young man. And if he keeps at it, maybe it will only be the first of several.

Sami Bzai

  • SG – 6’3 – Born 26th January 1994
  • Al-Ahli, Jordan

Bzai, a graduate of Division II Southeast Oklahoma State (best known for being Dennis Rodman’s alma mater), is the best shooter on the roster. He averaged 16.3 points per game for Al-Ahli last season while shooting nearly eight three-pointers a game, and he can shoot both off the catch and the dribble. Bzai is small for a two – which he mostly is, despite some point guard shifts – but at least the release is a quick one. Doing anything inside the arc against World Cup quality competition was a fruitless ask. But he shot the ball well, moved around, passed when he did not have the shot and competed on defence, no matter how fruitlessly. If you ever wanted to know what Matt Roth would look like in the World Cup, this was it.

Amin Abu Hawwas

  • PG/SG – 6’4 – Born 26th April 1994
  • Al-Hashd, Iraq

After ranking second in the Jordanian league in scoring last season – and the highest-placed domestic player, trailing only import Brandon Spearman – the American/Jordanian Abu Hawwas recently signed for Al-Hashd in Iraq. 22.9 points per game gets you work. The 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game won’t hurt, either, and speaks to Abuhawwas’s scoring instincts and mentality on the court. He will get up and down the court without being a speedster, is a decent outside shooter, is always in a lot of motion when not on the ball, and can probe his way into the lane when on it. Like all the Jordanian guards here, though, he found in this tournament that it is a very different story getting separation against players from the high levels.

Ahmad Alhamarsheh

  • SF – 6’6 – Born 10th October 1986
  • Orthodox, Jordan

Jordanian league stats are elevated because the Jordanian league is not a high-standard one at this time. Nevertheless, in any league, the 13.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.5 rebounds per game that Alhamahsheh averaged last season is always eye-catching. However, the reason that the Jordanian league is not a high-standard one is because it lacks the size and athleticism that the game’s higher levels has. Pick-and-rolls are pick-and-rolls at any level, yet the margins are of course reduced when the opposition defenders take up more space and cover more ground. Alhamarsheh found this out first hand in the World Cup.

Hashem Abbas

  • SF/PF – 6’6 – Born 30th March 1999
  • Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia

Abbas came up through the American high school and college systems, and left Division II Bridgeport after his junior season in 2020 having averaged 14.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Despite ostensibly being a wing, at least in terms of his frame. his is a post-up heavy arsenal, although there is some straight-up driving to be seen when facing the basket. Abbas is only an occasional shooter and is very untested defensively against high-level athletes; given that he is not one himself, the projection is not favourable. He has some offensive skill, though.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

  • SF/PF – 6’6 – Born 3rd January 1995
  • Atléticos de San Germán, Puerto Rico

Having been born and raised in Pennsylvania, going through the American high school system, spending two years in college, six years in the NBA, and then two years touring the globe playing in Turkey, South Korea, the Philippines and Puerto Rico, Hollis-Jefferson is clearly very heavily invested in the success of Jordan, both as a basketball team and as a nation. No doubt proud of his long and distinguished Jordanian routes, he arrived in this tournament on the back of a 2023 Puerto Rican BSN season in which he averaged 21,7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game for San German. Perhaps the window for Hollis-Jefferson to return to the NBA and play as a really small centre is closed. But if the only thing prohibiting it is his listed height, that would be a shame.

Zane Alnajdawi

  • PF – 6’7 – Born 26th September 1996
  • Al-Ahli, Jordan

A 2019 graduate of The Citadel, American-Jordanian citizen Alnajdawi (often listed as just Najdawi) averaged a very healthy 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as a senior, along with a modicum of floor stretching. For Al-Ahli in the Jordanian Premier League last season, he kept up the numbers, recording 19.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Najdawi has spent time in Spain and New Zealand to go along with his time in his two home nations, and piles in the production in all of them. He rolls to the rim, takes post touches, hustles on defence, pursues the ball and contests well in the lane for a 6’7 player. It is the lack of ideal size for his style of play, high-level athleticism or reliable three-point shooting stroke – or some combination thereof – that is preventing him from getting to a higher level. Good player, though.

Zaid Abbas

  • PF – 6’8 – Born 1st November 1983
  • Free agent

Abbas, a grandee of Jordanian basketball, is all but retired. For many years the country’s best export – including playing several seasons in China’s CBA, back in its particularly stat-heavy days – he is, as best as can be ascertained, out of club basketball these days, and is using this tournament as his swansong for the national team. A paint loiterer, Abbas was at his peak a nightly double-double guy, with strength in his frame, a good understanding of angles, plenty of rolling to go with a diet of post touches and dribble-drives, nice sharp elbows and a commitment to establishing and keeping position. He had touch, smarts and size. Perhaps his old-school four game would not fit the modern era quite as well. But it certainly worked for him in his era.

Mohammad Hussein

  • C – 6’11 – Born 3rd March 1990
  • Orthodox, Jordan

In the Jordanian Premier League last season, Hussein averaged 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. He has only ever played in Arab nations (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco), and while those leagues can pay quite well, they are not of the highest standards. Nevertheless, that is a good level of production, to go along with a big if slow body and some inside-outside play. It is of note, though, that he also took nearly six three-pointers per game, and hit only 22.1% of them. His status as a stretch threat is thus in intent only.

Ahmad Al-Dwairi

  • C – 7’0 – Born 4th March 1993
  • Bursaspor, Turkey

The man better known to European basketball audiences as Ahmet Duverioglu is a multi-year EuroLeague veteran, having spent one season with Anadolu Efes and six with Fenerbahce. A dual Turkish-Jordanian citizen, he outgrew the Jordanian league at a young age and has been in Turkey since 2014, including spending last year with Bursaspor, for whom he averaged 6.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in the Eurocup. Al-Dwairi – possibly Jordan’s best-ever player – has a textbook centre body and an old school centre game, a presence around the rim on both ends who can also hold his own on switches, playing plenty of good defence and using his good hands on both ends. He runs quite well for a seven-footer, too, and while he is not a go-to offensive player nor a rangy shooter, he is a reliable finisher on the catch and the roll. He is simply a good quality player, and it is a shame that Jordan lacked for the athletic guards that could do him justice.

Group A: Italy, Angola, Philippines, Dominican Republic

Group B: China, Serbia, Puerto Rico, South Sudan

Group C: USA, Greece, Jordan, New Zealand

Group D: Egypt, Mexico, Lithuania, Montenegro

Group E: Germany, Finland, Australia, Japan

Group F: Slovenia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Venezuela

Group G: Iran, Spain, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire

Group H: Canada, Latvia, France, Lebanon

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