10 reasons to be excited about the FIBA U18 Asian Championship
TEHRAN (Iran) - There’s been a lot of Asia basketball over the past few months form the U16 Asian Championship to the Asia Cup and the World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers, so you’re excused if you’ve fallen behind a bit on the hype for the U18 Asian Championship.
However, with the competition featuring the stars of tomorrow starting soon, it’s time to make sure that you are on board to experience the exciting action that will be going on in Tehran from 21-28 August.
If you’re still feeling a bit uncertain of what to expect, here’s a crash course about what to be excited about for the upcoming U18 Asian Championship 2022.
The last edition of the U18 Asian Championship was back in 2018 which seems like ages ago. The pandemic forced the competition to be postponed until now and considering how exciting the 2018 edition of the tournament was an how many outstanding talents were featured, you can see why there should be plenty of hype heading into the tournament’s return to the slate.
The future is now
Looking back at the 2018 tournament, it’s amazing how many of those talents have quickly developed and made an impact whether it’s with the senior national team or with professional clubs. Sam Froling is a champion, Flynn Cameron and Keisei Tominaga are Asia Cup stars, Lee HyunJung and Kai Sotto are now one of the brightest pieces of their nation’s futures, and the list goes on and on.
Just check out the list of players that played in the U18 Asian Championship 2018 who have already made the leap to play in the recent Asia Cup.
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That’s why it’s always fun to follow these young stars from such an early age as sometimes you never know how quickly they can pan out and take the charge.
There will be some exciting games right from the start in the Group Phase, but the marquee matchup will certainly be the last game on 23 August between Iran and Japan.
Aside from being two of the expected championship contenders for this year’s competition, the Iran-Japan pairing has been an entertaining one at the U18 level in the recent years. In both 2018 2016 editions of the competition, the two teams played against each other twice with a climatic Final battle as the highlight in 2016 - coincidentally held in Tehran as well.
Aside from getting this rematch in the Group Phase, will these two teams be facing each other in the final stage of the competition once again?
If you were watching the U16 Asian Championship, you will have witnessed India’s historic run through the competition. Led by Lonkendra Singh and Kushal Singh, India were able to claim their highest finish ever in the competition at 5th place while also securing a first ever win over Korea at the U16 level in the final game.
Most of the players from that squad are back for more at the U18 Asian Championship, most notably Kushal who is fresh off an Asia Cup debut in Jakarta.
The U18 level is a different beast and it might be a bit more difficult for these promising prospects to deliver at a higher level… but considering how far they’ve already exceeded from their expectations, it’ll be exciting to see how far they can go.
It won’t only be India that will be pushing their youngsters who recently played at the U16 Asian Championship to play here at the U18 Asian Championship. Japan are bringing along the U16 Asian Championship MVP Yuto Kawashima, Iran have their trio of studs led by Mohammad Amini, Jared Bahay is returning for the Philippines, among many others.
Scouts will be busy updating their reports to log how much these youngsters have improved over the past few months and fans should have a fun time seeing them back in action as well.
China’s attempt at restoring U18 glory
Since the 2010s, China are the most successful national team in the history of the U18 Asian Championship with 3 titles and one more third-place finish. The only time they were unable to finish on the podium was in 2016 which was also hosted in Tehran.
Now that the competition is back and back in Tehran, it feels like a good opportunity for this young China national team to redeem their reputation as one of the best in Asia. The competition surely will be stiff, but China have always shown to have a deep talent pool to choose from to succeed at this stage.
Is it Japan’s turn?
As mentioned above, Japan came close to winning their first U18 title back in 2016 but were thwarted by Iran in the title game. Now, they’re back and they have quite an ensemble of talents to make another run at the throne.
U16 MVP Yuto Kawashima is certainly expected to star for Japan, but there are also other exceptional talents like Akira Jacobs and Keshawn McNeill that will certainly have their moments. Rui Todoroki could also take the torch as yet another impressive point guard from Fukuoka Daiichi to serve as the lead floor general for the youth teams.
There’s plenty of talent in the roster, so it should be exciting to see if this combination of talents is enough to clinch Japan their first U18 title in the 21st century.
Of the 10 teams in Tehran, only 2 (Iran, China) have won the U18 title in the past two decades. This leaves a lot of opportunities for a relatively fresh face to step up and take their seat at the throne. Will it be Japan who came close in 2016? Will it be Korea who who have finished as runners-up four times in the past 20 years? Will it be the Philippine who are longing for a podium finish?
Will it still fall into the hands of the All-Time U18 titles leader China?
Or will the hosts take it again, just as they did in 2016?
In the end, someone will have to win it. The journey we’ll take to find out who it is will be an exciting one… as always.
Tickets to Debrecen up for grabs
Aside from playing for the U18 Asian Championship crown, the teams here will be playing for the four spots at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup next year in Debrecen. The four teams that make it to the Semi-Finals of the tournament in Tehran will still have to keep their focus on the final games of the competition, but in the meantime, they’ll also be able to quickly celebrate the fact that they’ll be advancing to the next stage to play against the best youth teams from around the world.
There are plenty of teams in this year’s playing field that haven’t been at the U19 World Cup in a while, which means one of them might get to see a return to that stage when it’s all said and done. Seeing those teams celebrate an achievement like that will certainly be entertaining.
Never enough basketball in Asia
There will be a lot of basketball going on in these upcoming days. Aside from the U18 Asian Championship, Window 4 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers will also be in action on from August 25-30.
There will be so much focus on basketball in Asia that some of that spotlight has to either be reflected or shine directly onto these kids at the U18 level. It’s a rare period in the basketball world where you’ll get to watch the stars of today and tomorrow by just switching the channel or browser or screen or however you will be watching these games.
There will never be such a thing as enough Asia basketball to watch or too much Asia basketball to watch… so the best reason to be excited about the FIBA U18 Asian Championship is just that: MORE ASIA BASKETBALL TO WATCH!