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Top 12 players to watch at #FIBAU18Asia in Bengaluru
BENGALURU (FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship 2018) – The continent’s finest junior women’s basketball talent will be taking the floor in less than a week.
While some of these players belong to Division A and are hoping for no less than a medal finish, we also have individual stars from teams that are either fighting to stay on in Division A or else eager to get promoted from Division B.
Here are 12 players across Divisions A and B you should watch out for in Bengaluru:
#1 Nnenna Agnes Emma-Nnopu (Australia): In a roster stacked with talent, Emma-Nnopu stands out as one of the Gems’ most potent all round weapons. The 6ft (182 CMS) forward already has the experience of representing Australia at last year’s FIBA U16 Women’s Asia Championship, where she averaged 11.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG. A perennial double double threat whenever she’s on the floor, Emma-Nnopu seems to come alive especially when it matters the most. Case in point- her 10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 1 steal in the thrilling 61-60 finale win over Japan at last year’s U16 Championship. Nnopu is also fresh off helping Australia finish as the third best side in the world, at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup held earlier this July in Belurus.
#2 Yuan Li (China): It takes a special caliber teenager to make a mark at the senior level, no less the FIBA Women’s World Cup. But that’s the kind of poise and talent that China’s floor leader Yuan Li has. The point guard led her team in assists (4.6 APG) at the FWWC, and these U18 Asian Championships offer her an opportunity to stuff the statsheet.
#3 Yutong Liu (China): The 6ft 5’’ (195 CM) center Liu averaged 14.4 PPG in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, and at last year’s FIBA Asia U16 Championship- averaged a monster double double of 14.3 PPG and 13.5 RPG. Interestingly, the duo of Yutong and Yuan had competed and trained at the NBA Academy in Shandong.
#4 Chia-Jung Lin (Chinese Taipei): At 5ft 7’’ (170 CM), Jung-Lin is undersized for her small forward position. But that didn’t stop her from putting up spectacular numbers at the 2017 FIBA U16 Women’s Asia Championship last year, where she went off for 15.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG.
#5 Maya McArthur (Japan): As Japan’s only squad member from last year’s FIBA Asia U16 Championship, McArthur will be expected to shoulder a heavier burden this year. Still to establish herself as a breakout star, McArthur’s backstory itself — which involved first trying out for the US national team before Japanese Coach Hovasse invited her to Japan’s U16 side — is sure to make heads turn yet again at this FIBA U18 Asian Women’s Championship.
#6 Jihyun Park (Korea): Along with China’s Yuan Li, Park is one of only two U18 players who also represented her senior national team at this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup. The high scoring forward averaged 15.1 points and 5.6 at the 2017 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup. Earlier 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.
#7 Charlisse Leger-Walker (New Zealand): The point guard led New Zealand in points (16.2 PPG) and assists (3.5 APG), at the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Championship, while also averaging a surprisingly high 9 RPG, making her an exceptional rebounder for her position. Despite being ranked 33rd last year, the Oceania side finished a creditable fourth and secured a spot in the 2018 FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup, in large part because of Leger-Walker’s brilliance.
#8 Alexandra Komarova (Kazakhstan): Komarova averaged a team high 14 PPG at the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Championship, and finished second in assists. Kazakhstan's hopes of getting promoted to Division A will continue to rest on Komarova's offensive prowess.
#9 Fatemah Ghazvini (Iran): The 5ft 7'' guard was her team's go to scorer at the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Championship, tallying 16.2 PPG and 5.3 RPG.
#10 Pushpa Senthil Kumar (India): Consistency personified, Pushpa Senthil Kumar is expected to hold her own on both ends of the floor. We can expect regular double doubles from the center, who averaged an identical 13.2 PPG and 13.2 RPG at the 2017 FIBA Asia U16 Championship.
#11 Lai Toong Tan (Malaysia): Another super undersized forward, the 5ft 6'' (167 CM) Tan is an excellent shooter from beyond the arc, shooting at nearly 40% from the three point line. Watch out for Tan lighting it up for Malaysia from downtown.
#12 Pui Ying Ho (Hong Kong): Expect forward Pui Ying Ho to put up much better numbers than her 6.2 PPG and 4.3 RPG at the 2017 FIBA U16 Asian Championship, that came against mighty Division A teams. At the upcoming U18 Championship, Hong Kong will be competing in Division B, and this could be the perfect platform for Ho to prove her credentials.
Adelaide Wongsohardjo (Indonesia): The only returning member to the Indonesian side from the 2016 FIBA U18 Championship, Wongsohardjo was just 15 when she made her debut in the national U18 team. That edition saw Indonesia get promoted to Division A, with Wongsohardjo averaging 4.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Indonesia's chances of staying on in Division A might well depend on the evolution of this 5ft 8'' (173 CM) point guard.