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Asia region Team Future for 2017
MANILA - As 2018 nears, the time is ripe to look ahead and see which young players have proven themselves worthy to be among the Asia region's Team Future.
Included here are the most productive young players who saw action for their respective national teams at either the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 or the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. To be considered for Team Future, a player has to be born no earlier than in 1995. Discussed in detail here are five players comprising the Asia Region Team Future 1st Team and mentioned afterwards are five players comprising the Asia Region Team Future 2nd Team. They were chosen based on their statistical contributions in 2017.
The Asia Region Team Future 1st Team
Hu Jinqiu (China)
Key stats per game: 9.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 59.1% field goals.
This 2.10m Chinese center was rock-solid in the Asia Cup, where he alternated with veteran Han Dejun at the middle. Despite being only 20 years of age, Hu has been able to hold his own against much more seasoned opponents, and that augurs well for his future as perhaps the "next Yi Jianlian" for China.
Abudushalamu Abudurexiti (China)
Key stats per game: 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 61.5% field goals.
Back in the 1990s, one iconic Chinese player was Gong Xiaobin - a power forward with great physicality who could also extend his range to the perimeter. Abudurexiti is a player in Gong's mold - someone who could mix it up in the paint against bigger opponents and also stretch the defense with his outside shooting. Remember, too, that the 2.03m forward is just 21 years old.
Finn Delany (New Zealand)
Key stats per game: 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 51.6% field goals.
One just has to love the kind of energy that Delany brings to the table for the Tall Blacks. He was able to showcase his wares thanks to the absence of old reliables Issac Fotu and Thomas Abercrombie at the Asia Cup, and the 22-year-old high leaper surely did not disappoint. He is a legitimate double-double threat for New Zealand in the years to come.
Sun Minghui (China)
Key stats per game: 16.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.5 triples, 68.8% field goals.
21-year-old Sun was the brilliant surprise package from coach Li Nan at the Asian Qualifiers. The 1.87m shooting guard made the most of every second he had on the floor, getting steals, hitting threes, dishing dimes and just relentlessly attacking the defense. He is certainly one guy to watch for Team Dragon in 2018.
Tai Webster (New Zealand)
Key stats per game: 10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.0 steal.
The US NCAA alum and NBA prospect was quite productive in his two games for New Zealand at the Asian Qualifiers. He didn't score a ton, but he compensated with his uncanny playmaking. He averaged 7.0 assists per contest in those two games, giving the Tall Blacks a great three-headed backcourt beast together with brother Corey and spitfire Shea Ili.
The Asia Region Team Future 2nd Team
Samuel Timmins (New Zealand) - At 2.11m, Timmins, who will turn 21 in 2018, is projected to be New Zealand's very sizable man-in-the-middle for the next few years.
Tohiraukura Smith-Milner (New Zealand) - This 22-year-old was among the Tall Blacks' most explosive scorers at the Asia Cup, and he should form a potent 1-2 punch at the PF spot together with Delany for the next few Asian Qualifiers windows.
Muin Bek Hafeez (India) - Not much is known about Hafeez except that at only 21, he is among the brightest young prospects at the wing positions for the Young Cagers of India, especially after registering around 7 points and 5 rebounds per game at the Asia Cup.
Behnam Yakhchali (Iran) - This "young veteran" scored in double-figures in all but one Asia Cup fixture for Iran, and he remains their best backcourt scoring option. He should have a big impact in the coming windows this year for Team Melli.
Abdulrahman Saad (Qatar) - Saad is maybe the most explosive scoring guard in the entire Asia region bar none. He loves having the basketball in his hands and has never met a shot he did not like. There is no doubt he is the face of Qatari basketball now until the foreseeable future.