The countdown to the 27th FIBA Asia Championships is drawing closer and closer. That also means one thing for bettors: now’s your chance to put in some money on who you believe is going to win the tournament and secure one of three spots for next year’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain.
Of course, believing who’s going to win and analyzing who really has the best shot at winning are two entirely different things. If you’re a Malaysian, you don’t really expect your national team to make some noise in the tournament, do you? But, say you’re Filipino, Iranian, or even a Jordanian, then you enter the tournament believing your respective teams have a shot at unseating the mighty Chinese team, which makes these teams’s odds that much more attractive.
As the defending champion, the tournament goes through China. That much everybody knows, including sportsbooks, which put the Chinese national team as even-odd favorites to defend its title and continue on its reign as Asia’s dominant basketball team. But even with China’s odds so short relative to the competition, don’t sleep on the rest of the teams that’ll play in the tournament. The 27th FIBA Asia Championships is far from being an academic tournament for the Chinese.
Iran, for one, poses a serious challenge to the favorites and its 11/5 odds figures to be reasonable to put some money on. After all, Iran recently scored back-to-back FIBA Asia titles in 2007 and 2009 so the team knows what it takes to win the tournament and in the latter’s case, beat China on its way to the title.
South Korea are third favorites at 7/1 followed shortly by tournament host the Philippines at 8/1 odds. Both teams are still considered as two of the most storied basketball programs in the region and even with recent success eluding these one-time powerhouses, don’t sleep on both countries making an impression on the tournament and possibly even unseating China as tourney champions.
Four other teams are slotted in the middle, all receiving decent dark horse odds to shock and awe at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships. Jordan’s the front-runner of this group at 14/1 odds, a number that could potentially be a gold mine if it can replicate its performance in the 2011 championships when it lost by a single point to China in the finals. Meanwhile, Japan (22/1), Qatar (25/1), and Chinese-Taipei (50/1) all have long shot odds which we believe doesn’t reflect on the strength of their teams.
Qatar, in particular, should be taken pretty seriously now that it has three naturalized players on its team, including former NBA lottery pick Jarvis Hayes. If picking the best value among these four teams was an exam, Qatar at 25/1 is the best value of the four you can put money on.
As for the rest of the field, expectations aren’t all that high for the countries like Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, India, Thailand, and the rest of the competing nations. The Central Asians have the shortest odds at 100/1 and even if it does pose a threat, the likelihood of the team going all the way isn’t a bet we’re comfortable making. Same goes for Saudi Arabia (200/1), India (400/1), and Thailand (500/1).
Finally, the three teams that have been pegged as the longest shots to win the tournament are all getting generous lines for good reason. All three teams are not good enough to hang against their Asian neighbors and any impact each of these three teams stand to make in the 2014 FIBA Asia Championships certainly reflect in the 750/1 odds for both Bahrain and Hong Kong and the 1,000/1 odds given to Malaysia.