22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
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From Wang to Scottie: Who was the MVP for each team in the fifth window?

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Only two more FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 qualification spots are left for grab from the Asian Qualifiers. All of the teams came out determined to claim victories in this window and it showed in the performances of their stars.

We took a look a which of these players played the biggest factor on their team's success. Here are the MVPs from each team this window!

Group E

Lebanon LBN

Ali Haidar - C / 2.06m / 1990
Statistics: 24.0 points, 6.5 rebounds per game, 51.2 percent field-goal shooting

Without Wael Arakji, big brother Ali Haidar had to step up in Window 5. Not only did he step up as team leader, Haidar shouldered the offensive load as well by leading Lebanon in scoring across both games. The 32-year-old has played in all windows for the Cedars so far and Window 5 was his most productive two-game stretch offensively.


New Zealand NZL

Hyrum Harris - F / 1.98m / 1996
Statistics: 11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game

The Tall Blacks had a rough Window, suffering two straight losses for the first time ever in the Qualifiers. There might be a silver lining in the form of Hyrum Harris' productive performance. We'll have to wait and see next window if he can keep it up and whether or not these performances can be converted into wins, but it's a promising start.

Philippines PHI

Scottie Thompson - SG / 1.86m / 1993
Statistics: 8.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists per game, 66.7 percent field-goal shooting

Is it possible that Scottie doesn't know that he was the arguably the Philippines' most impactful player this window? He might not have led them in scoring in either game (or even topped double-digits in scoring),  but his facilitating on a team without a true point guard and rebounding at just *checks* 1.86M (6'1") was definitely a massive boost for the team. If Scottie doesn't know this yet, his future opponents will certainly be singing "don't tell Scottie" so that he doesn't become their headache in the future.

Jordan JOR

Ahmad Al Dwairi - C / 2.10m / 1993
Statistics: 20.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 blocks per game, 72.7 percent field-goal shooting

Jordan are starting to feel the pressure as the last window approaches while they still haven't been able to clinch qualification to the World Cup just yet. That's probably why Ahmad Al Dwairi had to play the most amount of minutes across two games in a window this time at 35 minutes per game. And boy, did he produce. Al Dwairi was nearly unstoppable and if only they were able to beat the Philippines it would have been perfect.


Saudi Arabia KSA

Khalid Abdel Gabar - G / 1.83m / 1990
Statistics: 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.5 steals per game

Saudi Arabia's soft spoken star has been one of the most consistent players in the Asian Qualifiers, doing so again with nearly identical stat lines across both games this window. If there was fantasy basketball for the Asian Qualifiers, Abdel Gabar could very well be one of the most popular picks due to reliability on what he's able to do.


India IND

Muin Bek Hafeez - PG / 1.89m / 1996
Statistics: 10. 0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals per game

It's been a tough World Cup Qualifiers campaign for India, but they are putting their faith in the fact that this will be great experience to build on for such a young team. 26-year-old Hafeez was solid as a seasoned veteran this window, and considering his teenage to early 20s teammates, he is the seasoned veteran on this team. He'll need to get used to this role as the team continues to move forward.

Group F

Australia AUS

Sam Froling - C / 2.12m / 2000
Statistics: 18 points, 11 rebounds, 60.0 percent field-goal shooting

The Class of FIBA U18 Asian Championship 2018 was one for the ages and yet champion Sam Froling continues to stand out as one of the best of the bunch. The center has another strong outing here in Window 5 which should have Boomers fans excited for what to see ahead in 2023 and beyond from the youngster.

China CHN

Wang Zhelin - C / 2.12m / 1994
Statistics: 25.0 points, 10.5 rebounds per game  69.0 percent field-goal shooting

It turns out that there was no reason to be concerned about China missing out on having Zhou Qi active on the court for this window. Wang Zhelin made that cleared as the former Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) MVP recorded arguably his best stretch so far playing for the national team in Window 5. This one os a no-brainer.


Iran IRI

Behnam Yakhchali - PG / 1.90m / 1995
Statistics: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 71.4 percent field-goal shooting

Losing to China to start the window was tough for Iran, but it wasn't for a lack of effort as evident from Behnam Yakhchali's performance. His 32 EFF was the highest among players on losing teams this window, which might not be something to celebrate but is certainly impressive.

Japan JPN

Yuki Kawamura - PG / 1.72m / 2001
Statistics: 16.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists,

Prior to the window, it was speculated that Yuki Kawamura would take a leap after playing in the Asia Cup and his decision to become a full-time professional player in the B.League. So far, so good. The youngster was as intense as usual on defense, but it was on offense where he stepped up and scored in double-digits for the first time and twice (!).


Kazakhstan KAZ

Maxim Marchuk - SG / 1.96m / 1994
Statistics: 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds per game, 63.6 percent field-goal shooting

It's been incredulous to watch a team that had beaten Iran twice in the same qualifiers go through such a rough stretch of five straight losses. Maxim Marchuk has tried his best to get them back on track, but it hasn't been easy. They are still not out of the picture to qualify for the World Cup, but now they will need to do the job on their end and be hopeful for the results of the other games.

Bahrain BRN

Wayne Chism - PF / 2.03m / 1987
Statistics: 17.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks per game

We've known what Chism is capable of from his previous outings in the Qualifiers and the Asia Cup. Still it was a delight to watch the veteran get to work on both ends of the floor to nearly get an upset against China. It must feel like deja vu as Chism and Bahrain also had China against the Wall at the Asia Cup in Jakarta... only to let their chances slip away at the end.