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These FIBA Asia ladies were on fire!
MANILA (Enzo Flojo's Asia on My Mind) - The four FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments that just concluded were amazing to watch, and it's even more impressive how so many FIBA Asia talents were at the forefront of the action.
When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, four FIBA Asia teams successfully qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament: Australia, China, Korea and Olympic hosts Japan.
To celebrate the collective feat of these amazing women's national teams, I have compiled a list of the top ten FIBA Asia ladies who were on fire throughout the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.
Ramu Tokashiki (JPN)
The Asian champions may have won just one of their three games in Ostend, Belgium, but that should not take anything away from the fact they played at a very high level. Leading the charge for them - to nobody's surprise - was Ramu Tokashiki. He best game was in Japan's lopsided win over Sweden, where the 28-year-old center registered a monster 21-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Saki Hayashi (JPN)
Tokashiki's teammate on the JX-ENEOS Sunflowers was also on fire. The sweet-shooting Saki Hayashi actually missed all her shots in Japan's maiden matchup, but against hosts Belgium and elite Canada, the 1.73m/5ft 8in shooting guard came alive. She sank eight triples against the Belgian Cats and drained three more in a close loss to the Canadians.
Liz Cambage (AUS)
A number of people consider Liz Cambage to be the best female basketball player on the planet, and her performance in Bourges, France certainly gave credence to that impression. The 2.03m/6ft 8in Cambage was practically unstoppable as the Opals won two of their three assignments. She led the Bourges Olympic Qualifying Tournament in scoring and rebounding, and she should remain a force of nature when the Tokyo Olympic Games tip off.
Bec Allen (AUS)
Whereas Cambage was a beast in the middle, Bec Allen was an all-around stat-stuffer for Australia. The 27-year-old forward was as steady as could be for the Opals, averaging 16.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.7 triples per game in Bourges. Her finest showing was hitting four three-pointers en route to 20 points in their first game, though they did fall short against the home team.
Leilani Mitchell (AUS)
Australia really looked like one of the most complete teams in the entire field of the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, and much of that is because of the terrific playmaking of Leilani Mitchell. The Southside Flyers veteran floor general was the motor that ran the show for the Opals' offense, averaging 4.7 assists per game, which tied her with France's Bria Hartley at second place in Bourges. Remember, too, that Mitchell scored 11.3 points per game while hitting 46.2% from beyond the arc.
Li Meng (CHN)
Li is just 25 years old, but she has actually been one of the Chinese national team's mainstays since 2013. Her role at FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, however, was magnified as she was oftentimes the squad's number one option on offense. The 1.83m/6ft 0in guard did not disappoint, putting up 16.3 points per game, which was good enough for third overall behind the British duo of Temi Fagbenie and Johannah Leedham.
Han Xu (CHN)
Considered by many to be a cornerstone of China's future in international women's hoops, Han Xu was a lot to handle for their opponents in Belgrade. At 2.05m/6ft 9in, the 20-year-old towers over most opponents, and she flexed that size advantage to the hilt, registering 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as the Chinese emphatically swept all of their Group B assignments.
Shao Ting (CHN)
Old reliable Shao Ting may not have torched the nets like she did in years past, but she remained a formidable part of China's machinery. The 30-year-old veteran offered more than just experience and advice amidst the youngsters who formed the core of China's squad. Shao scored when she needed to (16 points against Great Britain), rebounded when she needed to (7 boards against Spain), and deferred to her teammates when she needed to (5 assists against Korea). She just showcased her all-around skill-set, and China were better for it.
Park HyeJin (KOR)
Korea missed the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, but their great showing in Belgrade assured them of a return to the quadrennial games in Tokyo later this year. A lot of that had to do with Park HyeJin stepping up big time. The versatile 29-year-old guard was Korea's most dependable perimeter weapon, hitting a searing 75.0% of her threes, including draining three triples in their huge victory over Great Britain.
Park JiSu (KOR)
One really cannot talk about Korean women's hoops without mentioning Park JiSu, who, at just 21 years old, is already considered by many as the face of Korea's women's national team. The 1.98m/6ft 6in JiSu handled herself well in Belgrade, putting up 10 points and 4 rebounds against Spain before dominating with 15 points, 9 boards, 6 blocks and 3 steals against the British. The last time Korea were in the Olympic Games, JiSu was just 10 years old, but now she will carry their Olympic dreams in Tokyo. How's that for amazing, eh?
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