How well are these World Cup-bound Asian stars performing for their clubs?
ASIA - The FIBA Basketball World Cup cast of 32 has been set and the teams that proceeded on from the Asian Qualifiers are as strong as ever. There is some time before the tournament takes place in China this summer so let’s take a sneak peak at the top performers from the Asian Qualifiers who could be playing there. When these stars aren’t shining for the national team, they are leading their respective clubs to great success.
Whether it’s an MVP season or a championship season, these ballers are putting up a show in their respective leagues!
Stats are updated as of March 17, 2019
Abudushalamu Abudurexiti (China)
Club: Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Chinese Basketball Association (CBA)
Season Averages: 37.1 minutes, 18.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Chinese national team head coach Li Nan made a priority to use his prized 22-year-old as much as he could during the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Abudurexiti logged the most minutes among all players on the team with an average of 28.6 per game for a good reason. He is primed to be China’s next mega-star with a versatile set of skills at the forward position. In 8 games, Abudurexiti averaged 10.9 points and 7.1 rebounds on 54.8 percent shooting from the field.
It’s been a breakout season for the CBA's Most Improved Player of the Year Abudurexiti as well with the fourth-placed Flying Tigers, where he has emerged as a legit MVP candidate. In his 4th CBA season, Abudurexiti has nearly doubled his output in all major statistical categories while also shooting 38.9 percent from downtown. He is 5th among local players in the CBA and recently set a career-high of 40 points this month.
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Lee Jung-Hyun (Korea)
Club: Jeonju KCC Egis, Korean Basketball League (KBL)
Season Averages: 32.0 minutes, 17.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.3 steals
There was only one player who played in all of Korea’s Asian Qualifier games and that is none other than Lee Jung-Hyun who averaged 25.9 minutes in those 12 contests. He should be a lock to for Korea's World Cup squad with a line of 13.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists during the Qualifers. Lee shot a blistering 46.8 percent from beyond the arc and was ranked second on the national team in terms of Player Efficiency.
This performance comes as no surprise from the 32-year-old who teammates also call Bronco. The eight-season veteran is having his best year yet as an MVP candidate for Jeonju KCC Egis who are currently tied at 4th place in the standings with a 27-26 record. Lee leads all local players in scoring while shooting 32.5 percent from downtown. His all-around game was in full display when the 1.91M (6'3") guard recorded a rare triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists just before the New Year’s break.
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Mohammed Jamshidi (Iran)
Club: Chemidor, Iranian Superleague
Jamshidi had a rough start to his Asian Qualifiers campaign, but managed to finish strong as he helped lead Iran to their 3rd straight FIBA World Cup appearance. The 27-year-old scored at least 25 points in each of the last three games against the Philippines, Japan, and Australia. He played in all 12 games for the national team with solid averages of 12.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game.
His impact and presence with his club team has been similar, if not magnified, playing for Chemidor Tehran. In the Iranian Superleague, Chemidor have finished the regular season in 2nd place with a 14-2 record with Jamshidi leading the way as one of the team's best scoring options going into the playoffs.
At the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019 WABA Qualifiers, Jamshidi ripped through the competition to average a tournament-leading 23.3 points per game. His 44-point performance against Al-Jaish was one for the ages and one that fans will not forget any time soon. Most importantly, Jamshidi's scoring helped Chemidor to an unblemished record in the WABA Qualifiers with 4 straight wins.
Makota Hiejima (Japan)
Club: Link Tochigi Brex, B.League
Season Averages: 23.3 minutes, 9.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 43.6 three-point shooting percentage
Japan gets a lot of hype for their two overseas stars, Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe, but it was reigning B.League MVP Makoto Hiejima that played in all 12 Asian Qualifier games and posted an 18.2 efficiency rating.
The 28-year-old missed a large chunk of the season when he explored his options in the NBL (Australia) with the Brisbane Bullets after signing in the offseason with Tochigi Brex. Hiejima has now returned to play with the Brex for the final stretch where they are currently 38-9 in the season. The 1.90M (6’3”) guard has been slowly brought along into a strong team rotation and has scored in double-digits for the past 5 of 7 games.
It’s too late in the season for Hiejima (who has only played 13 games) to make a run for back-to-back MVP awards, but he has a good shot at winning the B.League title with the Brex.
June Mar Fajardo (Philippines)
Club: San Miguel Beermen
Season Averages: 34.9 minutes, 23.0 points, 12.7 rebounds
Fajardo was a sturdy tower that the Philippines could lean on during their run to qualify for the World Cup, playing in 10 games and averaging 10.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. Those are respectable stats already, especially in only 18.2 minutes of play, but the numbers have shot up even more in the PBA for the 5-time MVP.
The San Miguel Beermen have won the Philippine Cup 4 consecutive times since 2014. A large part is because they have the 2.08M (6’10”) Fajardo manning the paint. The 29-year-old currently leads the league in scoring and rebounding while shooting 62 percent from the field. The Beermen are currently in 4th place of the standings with a 6-4 record, but they can be confident of a deep playoff run nonetheless with Fajardo roaming the shaded area.
Zaid Abbas (Jordan)
Club: Al Ahli, Jordanian Premier Basketball League
The local basketball league in Jordan wrapped up way before the national team were able to celebrate their second ever qualification to the World Cup. Abbas was crucial to Jordan’s World Cup berth with an average of 13.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in 10 games and he was just as important for Al Ahli securing their 23rd league title.
In the deciding 5th game in the Finals against Kufryopa Sports Club, Abbas put up 24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals to help his team get a 73-64 win.