17 February, 2020
28 August, 2021
12 Abdulwahab Alhamwi (SYR)
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Stats don't lie: 7 improved players from the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers

BANGKOK (Thailand) - The FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers are full of opportunities. A number of players were quick to pounce in the first window, displaying their development over the years since fans last saw them at Asia Cup 2017.

Here are some players who improved their game and put it on display in window 1.

Muin Bek Hafeez (IND)

Asia Cup 2017:

23.8 minutes, 6.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

38.7 minutes, 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists per game

In hindsight, Hafeez’s production in window 1 should have been expected. He was already playing the 3rd most amount of minutes on the team in 2017, putting up decent numbers at the age of just 21.

Hafeez played all but three minutes in this first window and provided the speed and outside shooting needed to compliment India’s big men in their win over Iraq.

Playing against Lebanon in the future windows will be ultimate tests for Hafeez. India fans are looking forward to see him continue to shine.

Hassan Abdullah (IRQ)

Asia Cup 2017:

17.3 minutes, 5.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

24.3 minutes, 15.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game

Go check out Abdullah’s player profile picture from Asia Cup 2017. He’s holding in a smile, enjoying his first time playing in the Asia Cup.

Fast forward to his current picture for the Qualifiers and you see that he’s all serious now. He’s wearing his game face and completely focused.

And he went off in this first window, specifically against India where he scored 26 points to lead the team. It would have been a better performance if it had resulted in a win, but Abdullah and Iraq will take this positive note as they head towards the next window looking for a win.

Maxim Marchuk (KAZ)

Asia Cup 2017:

10.4 minutes, 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

23.1 minutes, 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game

Marchuk wasn’t turning heads in the first window in particular and some might remember him more for an unfortunate late game play against Jordan.

Looking at the bigger picture however, Marchuk has gained the trust of coach Emil Rajkovikj and logged key minutes (3rd most in the team) while doing a little bit of everything along the way.

Jordan Ngatai (NZL)

Asia Cup 2017:

22.2 minutes, 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds per game, 30.8 percent 3P shooting

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

29.8 minutes, 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds per game, 46.2 percent 3P shooting

Jordan Ngatai has been a key part of the Tall Blacks ever since their run to the Semi-Finals in Asia Cup 2017. The bearded one took it up a notch in the Qualifiers this year by tripling his scoring average from 3 years ago.

In 2017, Ngatai scored only 2 points on one shot attempt against Australia in a blowout loss. At the Qualifiers, he poured in 19 points on 6-9 shooting which also included 3 three-pointers.

Not bad for improvement, right?

Roger Pogoy (PHI)

Asia Cup 2017:

16.7 minutes, 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

22.8 minutes, 16 points, 6 rebounds

As a solid defensive wing who can score in multiple ways, Pogoy has been valuable to Gilas. Alongside veteran teammates with bigger roles like Jayson Castro, Pogoy has done well in plugging as a role player. Playing with a younger squad at the Qualifiers, the national team needed him to shoulder a bit more of the load and Pogoy responded with an efficient scoring game.

A crucial indicator of how much Pogoy has added to his game might come in the later windows when the Philippines face Korea. At Asia Cup 2017, Pogoy recorded a solid 12 points on 2 three-pointers but he’ll be looking forward to avenge that loss.

Abdelrahman Yehia Abdelhaleem (QAT)

Asia Cup 2017:

19.6 minutes, 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

25.6 minutes, 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game

Qatar are rebuilding with several promising young players on their squad (eight are 23 or younger!) and Abdelhaleem is right at the center of this rebuild.

He was the second youngest player for Qatar at Asia Cup 2017 and now, even at only 23 years old, he’s already one of the most experienced players on the squad. Abdelhaleem is a big forward at 2.01M (6’7”) and has a sweet stroke. He’ll only get better the next time we see him again in the next window.

Abdulwahab Alhamwi (SYR)

Asia Cup 2017:

10.4 minutes, 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.7 blocks per game

Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers window 1:

31.1 minutes, 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game

The towering 2.20M (7’3”) center was sparingly used in Asia Cup 2017, but had already shown improvement throughout the World Cup Asian Qualifiers since.

In the first window, Alhamwi has clearly stepped up as an indispensable part of this Syria team. Other than being one of three players to average over 30 minutes for the team, Alhamwi made his presence felt in Syria’s big win over Saudi Arabia. When he was on the floor, he completely changed the dynamic of the game and it eventually resulted in a win.