Level Up: Quick turnaround from U16 to U18 tourneys for these youngsters
TEHRAN (Iran) - As the FIBA U18 Asian Championship begins, hardcore fans will recognize some of the faces here in action even if it’s everyone’s first time playing in the competition. That is because only 2 months ago, a large number of these players were on the courts in Dubai at the U16 Asian Championship.
To be considered among the top youth players in the country for two ages groups is certainly something special and these players are ready to show and tell why they deserve their spots on both teams.
Yuto Kawashima (Japan)
Kawashima’s resume is fascinating to look at. This summer, he’ll have accomplished playing in the U16 Asian Championship, U17 World Cup, and U18 Asian Championship. However, his first ever national team appearance was way before this summer in 2021 at the U19 World Cup. So, while all of these players in Tehran are fighting for a spot in next year’s U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Kawashima will be playing for a shot at a return to the competition.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Kawashima is one of the talents from the U16 Asian Championship that are here at the U18 tournament, especially after he won the MVP of the U16 tourney with averages of 26.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
Karl Chris Zamatta (Lebanon)
Another player who has been busy this summer with also playing in the U17 World Cup is Lebanon’s Zamatta. The blossoming big man was one of the breakout stars of the U16 Asian Championship when he dropped 24 points, 21 rebounds, and 3 blocks to beat Korea, earning a trip to the Semi-Finals and a first ever U17 World Cup appearance for Lebanon
Zamatta had said that "it is just the beginning" and now we’ll see that journey continue here at the U18 Asian Championship.
Harsh Dagar (India)
Jaideep Rathore (India)
Kushal Singh (India)
Janmejay Singh (India)
Lokendra Singh (India)
Half of the India national team here in Tehran for the U18 Asian Championship were part of the historic U16 Asian Championship team in Dubai.
It was their first time ever advancing to the Quarter-Finals in the history of the competition, eventually ending up with their highest finish in the Final Standings at 5th place by winning their first game over Korea at that level.
U16 Asian Championship All-Star Five (and Asia Cup 2022 debutant!) Kushal Singh leads the charge here for India after averaging 22.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game and is also joined by Lokendra Singh (17.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 3.1 steals per game), Jaideep Rathore (16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.6 steals per game), and Harsh Dagar (15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.3 steals per game).
The level of competition at the U18 tournament won’t be the same as at the U16 competition, but that makes it even more exciting to see how well India’s youngster will do.
Ku MinGyo (Korea)
The production of Ku MinGyo at the U16 Asian Championship went under the radar a bit as Korea missed out on advancing to the Semi-Finals for the first time in a long while and also ending the tournament with a loss to India.
Still, Ku averaged 16.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game which is not easy to do at any level.
Will he be able to replicate that level of success here at the U18 Asian Championship?
Will that be enough to help get Korea to the U19 World Cup?
Jared Bahay (PHI)
Kris Porter (PHI)
In retrospect, losing to Japan by only 7 points in the Group Phase of the U16 Asian Championship was not that bad for the Philippines and they also put up a good fight against Australia in the Quarter-Finals as well.
A large part of that was because of the stellar guard play of Jared Bahay who ended up with 13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game for young Gilas. He is returning to play for the Philippines at the U18 Asian Championship along with Khris Porter (6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game), hoping to go a bit further than their U16 campaign.
Mohammad Amini (Iran)
Mohammadamin Khosravi (Iran)
Sarem Jafari (Iran)
It was a quick turn of events for Iran after going through the Group Phase undefeated before ending up at 8th place at the U16 Asian Championship. Despite the less desired outcome, Iran did get to showcase three prospects who could be a kay part of their future down the road.
In particular, the star of the team was Mohammad Amini who was second in the tournament in scoring with 22.8 points while also grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game. The high-flyer is already pegged as one of the top prospects at the U18 Asian Championship and his performance at the U16 tourney certainly played a part.
Amini will also be joined by Khosravi (14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game) and Jafari (13.8 points, 9.2 rebounds per game).
AliAshraf Fathy Alnabawy (Qatar)
Abdulla Rashid Al-Abdulla (Qatar)
Mohamed Massamba Ndao (Qatar)
Hazim Ghazi Ahmad Daradkeh (Qatar)
Abdulla Yassin Mousa (Qatar)
Hamad Yassin Mousa (Qatar)
Ghassan Hajar (Qatar)
Sultan Ashraf Abuissa (Qatar)
Moustapha Ndao (Qatar)
If you thought that India were pushing hard for their future by bringing half of their U16 squad to the U18 tournament, wait until you see Qatar’s team. All but three players will be making their second youth national team appearance this summer to make up a team that will be gaining valuable experience against the best of Asia.
The Ndao brothers, the leading scorers of the U16 team, are both back in action and will be joining Mohammed Hasim Abbasher, the standout forward who has already played for the senior national team.