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Then and Now: 10 Former U18 Stars who were part of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018!
BENGALURU (FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship 2018) – While the chance to be crowned the best team across Asia and Oceania is a massive accomplishment in itself, the U18 platform is also the springboard for exceptional talent looking to graduate to the senior level.
This year's FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup saw three teams from Asia (China, Japan and Korea) and one team from Oceania (Australia) in action. While Australia finished runners up, China, Japan and Korea ended 6th, 9th and 14th, respectively.
We highlight the top 10 Asia and Oceania players from the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018, who had once starred at the U18 continental championships.
Ezi Magbegor at the 2016 FIBA U18 Oceania Championship.
- Steph Talbot: The 188cm (6ft 2'') small forward was a regular in Australia's youth teams, reserving her best performance for the 2012 FIBA Oceania U18 Championship. Through that tournament, Talbot averaged a dominant double double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to 3.7 assists per game.
- Alanna Smith: The 22-year-old is slowly cementing her place in the senior team after crushing it at the 2014 FIBA Oceania U18 Championship, where she put up a whopping 21 PPG to go along with 7.2 RPG.
- Ezi Magbegor: Still only 19, Magbegor is a relative newbie in the senior ranks. But at the youth level, the 193 CM (6ft 4'') forward has been consistency personified, averaging 13 points and 8+ rebounds across five different international championships between 2015 and 2017. At the 2016 FIBA U18 Oceania Championship, Magbegor put up a solid 15 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Yeuru Li (left) and Xu Han at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women
- Sijing Huang: In China's gold medal winning run at the 2014 FIBA Asia U18 Championship, Huang was its go to scorer and rebounder. The 190 CM (6ft 3") power forward dominated right through, averaging 20.1 PPG and 9.7 RPG, missing out on a 20-10 double double by a whisker!
- Li Yueru: One of the stars to watch out for in Asia, the 19-year-old was phenomenal at both the U16 and U18 levels. Standing 6ft 7'' (200 CM) tall, the center posted outstanding numbers of 15.9 PPG and 13.9 at the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship, helping China secure its fourth straight gold.
- Xu Han: Other Division A teams at this year's FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship will be relieved that they don't have to contend with Xu Han anymore. The 205 CM (6ft 9'') center averaged an impressive 15.9 PPG and 11 RPG at the 2017 FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup. Prior to that, playing alongside Yeuru Li, Han put up figures of 11 PPG and 7 RPG at the 2016 FIBA U18 Asian Championship.
Himawari Akaho during the 2016 FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship.
- Moeko Nagaoka: At the last four editions of the FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship, Japan has been finishing runners up to China. Small forward Nagaoka participated at the 2010 edition, and despite being only 16 years old, led her team in scoring with 15 PPG.
- Himawari Akaho: The now 20-year-old Akaho has participated in, not one, but two U18 Asian Championships, in 2014 and 2016. Playing limited minutes in both editions, the small forward chipped in with 9.8 PPG/7.8 RPG (in 2014) and 7.9 PPG/6.4PPG (in 2016).
Ji Su Park during the 2016 FIBA U18 Asia Championship.
- Ji Su Park: Ji Su has had a dream run in representing Japan at the younger age groups. From 2012 to 2016, the 192 CM (6ft 4'') center has competed in 6 different international championships at both the Asian and World level. She reserved her best numbers for the 2014 FIBA U18 Asia Championship, averaging 16.2 PPG and 15.7 boards. She followed that with a relatively more subdued 8.6 PPG and 10.6 RPG at the 2016 edition.
- Jihyun Park: Still only 18, Jihyun made her senior World Cup debut for Japan this year. Two years prior, at the 2016 FIBA U18 Asian Championship, Jihyun helped her team to a podium finish for the third straight time, posting a solid 9.1 PPG and 8 RPG.