Follow FIBA on Facebook
Can U18 star Guo Haowen be a regular for China at the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers?
BEIJING (CHINA) - While Zhou Qi headlines the naming of China's roster for the final window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, there might be more interesting names listed down the Chinese national team squad.
National team veterans like Guo Ailun and Yi Jianlian are absent from the training camp roster as head coach Li Nan appears to be aiming at experience harvesting for younger players. A name that stands out in the list is Guo Haowen, who only recently turned 19 on January 31st. This is the first time the 2.01 M (6’7”) forward has been named to a senior national team squad.
"As a newcomer to the national team, I will definitely cherish every minute on the court." - Guo Haowen
"First of all, I am very excited," Guo says of the opportunity. "I am very grateful to the Bayi team and coach Wang Zhizhi for training me. I also want to thank Li Nan, the coach of the national team, for giving me this opportunity. It has always been my dream to play for the country. To play in the Asian Qualifiers for China is the moment that dream comes true. I am very proud."
It might be too early to expect extended minutes from the teenager right now with other proven talents like Zhai Xiaochuan, Zhao Rui, Chen Linjian, and Wu Qian in the backcourt of the listed players. However, getting called up to a potential senior national team debut this early in his career is a great sign of the confidence the Chinese national team program has in his future. Though Guo might not see playing time in this final window nor during the World Cup this summer, being called up means that it’s very possible he’ll be a regular when the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers commence later in the year.
Nonetheless, Guo will take this opportunity as a chance to learn from his "big brothers" on the team.
"I am very happy to have the chance to play with Zhou Qi and Zhai Xiaochuan," Guo expresses. "To me, they are all big brothers that I personally like. I hope that I can improve faster so that I can catch up with their level as soon as possible, and contribute more to the national team."
Guo solidified his status as one of the brightest prospects for the Chinese national team future during the FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2018 this past August, leading the team to a berth at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 with a third place finish. He was a constant threat to post a triple-double with an average of 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game throughout the competition.
Since then, he has continued to impress in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) with the Bayi Rockets. In his rookie season and as one of the youngest players in the league, Guo is averaging 8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game for his team. He’s proven to be an all-around forward with a knack for getting to the free-throw line and can also set his teammates up as well.
The rising prospect realizes the difference between the levels he's played in the past and the hurdles up ahead, but he's ready to face them without fear.
"The senior level game is more intense and faster than the U19 level. This year, I have already felt this in my rookie year of CBA. As for the national team, I didn't think too much. I believe that as long as I complete the coach's requirements, experience and the ability of reading a game will raise naturally. I also believe that these gains will be reflected in U19 World Cup this year."
After the final window of the Asian Qualifiers, Guo’s big test should be in Greece as he should be a lock to make the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup squad this midyear. If he can impress with his production there among the elite teenagers from all over the world, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to imagine Guo playing a big role for China during the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
"As a newcomer to the national team, I will definitely cherish every minute on the court, starting as a role player, starting from defense, and fighting for every round. In addition, I am good at breaking through. If the team needs me on the offense, I will step up bravely. I look myself as a brick that can be moved wherever it is needed."
View this post on Instagram
China’s pipeline of bright young talents is already stacked with guys like Hu Jinqui and Shen Zijie and it looks possible that they already have Guo Haowen ready to be the next in line to step up.