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Asia is Guo Ailun's for the taking
MANILA (Enzo Flojo's Asia on my Mind) - The players who took part in the FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2009 comprise a special group. Many of the names who graced the hardwood that year are, by now, among the mainstays of several men's national teams across the continent.
There's Zhai Xiaochuan and Ding Yanyuhang of China, Iran's Sajjad Mashayekhi and Amir Sedighi, Korean center Lee JongHyun, Ray Chen of Chinese Taipei, Ahmad Al Dwairi of Jordan, Alex Zhigulin of Kazakhstan, Delvin Goh of Singapore, and Kevin Ferrer of the Philippines.
There are some marquee names on that list, but perhaps the most promising talent to come out of that class is none other than Chinese point guard Guo Ailun.
Guo has been in China's basketball spotlight for the better part of the past decade. He debuted in that 2009 youth tournament, leading the Chinese to an 8-0 sweep of the competition and finishing as the competitions second overall leading scorer with 21.0 points per game. Guo was so good that the year after he already made China's senior squad that saw action in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2010. He missed out on the FIBA Asia Championship 2011, but the 1.92m floor general has since been a top choice for China's national team in most of their continental and world level campaigns.
Most recently, Guo was named one of the members of the All-Star Five in the FIBA Asia Championship 2015 alongside compatriots Yi Jianlian and Zhou Qi, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami of Iran and Jayson Castro of the Philippines. Guo shone brightest in that tournament's championship game, besting Castro in their head-to-head match up after scoring 19 points and limiting "The Blur" to just 8 points. The native of Liaoning also served as one of China's leaders in the Olympics 2016, norming around 10 points and 5 assists in the national team's five contests.
He is among the most popular players in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and many consider him, hands down, the top candidate to supplant Castro as the best point guard in Asia. All indications, in fact, appear to support that notion, especially with Guo coming off another banner season in the CBA. He ended the season averaging 19.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game while also hitting 1.8 three-pointers per contest. Without a doubt, if Guo can translate that kind of production to the East Asia Basketball Association Championship 2017 in June and the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in August, then Asia will be his for the taking.
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