Past U18 Stars
The FIBA U18 Asian Championship has a storied history as many of Asia’s top superstars have left their mark on the game since shining in the competition.
Here is a run down of some of the top players who wowed fans at the FIBA U18 Asian spectacle and gone on to help their senior national team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.
Abdulrahman Saad - Qatar (@abdulrhman_saad.2)
Qatar finished ninth at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2014, but the host team had one of the most outstanding players of the entire tournament in Saad.
The Doha native led the tournament in scoring at 27.0 points per game and was fourth in steals at 2.4 per game. He also averaged 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Saad scored 40 points against India and had big double-doubles vs Philippines (35 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Jordan (31 points, 11 rebounds and three steals). The average was held to 27 points as he scored just three points versus China with 1-of-13 shots, five turnovers and four fouls in 19 minutes.
The 21-year-old has already made his impact felt at the senior team, averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the first window at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. Last summer he collected 20.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals at the FIBA Asia Cup 2017.
Ihab Al-Zuhairi - Iraq (@ehabhasan0)
Al-Zuhairi led the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2016 in scoring (32.0 ppg) and rebounds (18.5 rpg) while also picking up 2.5 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals for an Iraqi team that finished ninth. The 2016 event in Iran was actually Al-Zuhairi’s second U18 continental championship after he averaged 7.3 points and 8.3 rebounds at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2014.
The 6ft 9in (2.07m) center has already made his debut with the senior national team as well. After averaging 6.8 points and 2.5 rebounds at the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge, Al-Zuhairi had two points and one rebound in 15 minutes over four games at the 2017 WABA Championship. And he played one game in the November window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, picking up one foul in one minute against Iran.
Wael Arakji - Lebanon (@waelarakji)
Arakji was the leader of the Lebanon team that finished seventh at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2012, averaging 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals.
The 6ft 4in (1.93m) point guard is already a regular contributor in the senior national team at 23 years old. Arakji averaged 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals at the FIBA Asia Cup 2017. In the first window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, Arakji collected 17.0 points, 7.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
Wang Zhelin - China
Wang played for China twice on the youth global stage at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2010 and FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. But his only youth title came at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2010, when he averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds.
The 7ft 0in (2.14m) center debuted already at the FIBA Asia Cup 2013 and also played for China at the FIBA Asia Cup 2015 and the Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament 2016. In the November window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, the 24-year-old Fujian native had two double-doubles and averaged 13.5 points and 11.0 rebounds.
Palpreet Singh Brar - India (@palpreet15)
Singh Brar showed at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2012 that he can star at the level, averaging 21.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, a tournament-high 4.0 blocks and 1.1 assists.
The 24-year-old made his senior national team debut at the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup competition and averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds. The 6ft 9in (2.04m) center played a strong role at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers with 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
Baba carried Japan to fourth place at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2012 as he collected 9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists.
The 6ft 5in (1.95m) shooting guard debuted with the senior national team last summer, playing at the 2017 EABA Championship and then averaging 5.5 points, 2.2 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals at the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 as a 21-year-old. In the November window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, the Toyama native picked up 8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 assists.
Jonghyun Lee - Korea
Lee guided Korea to the final of the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2012, losing to China for the crown. The Seoul native averaged 18.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 1.9 assists.
The 6ft 8in (2.03m) center debuted straight away that summer with the senior team with 4.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2012. Lee played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 and the last three FIBA Asia Cups, picking up 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 assists in the 2017 edition. In the first windows of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, Lee averaged 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Behnam Yakhchali - Iran (@behnamyakhchali)
Yakhchali brought Iran back to the podium at the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2012, averaging 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.0 assists for the third place team.
The 22-year-old shooting guard debuted in the senior team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 and has since played in two FIBA Asia Cups in 2015 and 2017. In the latter, the Shahrekord native averaged 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Yakhchali did not play in the first window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, but he is expected to be a major part of Iran’s road to China 2019.