From Lin to Watanabe: Who are the Top 15 players to watch this summer in Asia?
to read

From Derrick Michael to Watanabe: Who are the Top 15 players to watch this summer in Asia?

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - It's about to be a busy summer in Asia. In just a little over a week from today, Window 3 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers will tip-off from 30 June to 4 July. Shortly after, the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 will begin from 12-24 July in Jakarta, Indonesia.

With World Cup qualification and the title of being the best team in the Asia Cup on the line, there’s bound to be a lot of action from the teams playing in these competitions. This also means that these teams will be lining up some of their best talents to secure the wins that they need.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 15 players that Asia basketball fans should expect to see over the course of this summer!




Why you should be excited 

15 Derrick Michael Xzavierro INA While we haven't seen much of Derrick in a FIBA competition (just one Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers game, to be exact), there's a lot to like and a lot to look forward to seeing. The young big man has already been on a historic path of being the first Indonesian player at the NBA Global Academy and the first to  get a scholarship from an NCAA Division 1 school. The path ahead looks intriguing for Derrick and that could start right here at Asia Cup 2022.
 14  Lin Ting-Chien TPE Among some of the younger players that we might get to see this summer in Asia basketball events, Lin Ting-Chien stands out as one of the best. We’ve only had a brief glimpse of what he’s capable of at the Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers in his national team debut.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) standout has been one of the best youngsters in Chinese Taipei ever since taking the youth national team to the U17 World Cup in 2016 and playing in the USA with the Bryant Bulldogs.  
 13  Kai Sotto PHI Another young (and very talented) player that we might - and are hoping to - see is Kai Sotto. The Filipino center is currently preparing for the NBA Draft after an impressive season in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL)s, averaging 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Adelaide 36ers. The Philippines could certainly use Sotto’s height and skill set going up against the best of Asia this summer.
 12 Freddy Ibrahim JOR Ever since making his FIBA debut in World Cup 2019, Ibrahim has been a star for Jordan. The 1.90M (6'3") guard can do it all whether it's shooting, slashing, dishing, and driving. It's about time that we're finally going to see him in the FIBA Asia Cup.
 11 Wael Arakji LBN  Arakji has been one of Lebanon’s biggest star over the past few years and still holds that spot at the moment. He’s had a spectacular championship winning season with Beirut Club in the local league averaging 18.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.
The 27-year-old has a resume that features playing almost around the world, guaranteeing his status as one of the top players in Asia to watch for.
 10 Yudai Baba JPN We’re sure that Japan basketball fans can’t wait for the return of “Baba Boom” if he suits up for the national team this summer. The explosive athlete has been a fan favorite wherever he plays, whether it is in the NBA G-League (where he averaged 12.5 points per game last season) or the NBL. The 26-year-old has become a solid offensive option for Japan alongside their stars and hopefully we will get to see that in action at the Asia Cup in Indonesia.
 9 Behnam Yakhchali IRI The next wave of upcoming stars in Iran basketball are on the rise and leading the charge is Behnam Yakhchali. The 1.90M (6’3”) shooting guard has been a double-digit scorer for Iran for over half a decade, which is why he was able to draw attention from clubs in Europe. Yakhchali has been playing in Germany in the past two seasons and should be more than ready to take his game to another level this summer with Iran. 
 8 Dar Tucker JOR Jordan got Dar Tucker back for Window 2 of the World Cup Qualifiers and he immediately went to work, putting up 29 points in a win over Lebanon. Tucker should be back this summer for Jordan, especially for Asia Cup 2022 after a season playing for Flemengo, averaging 10.1 points per game for the in the BCA Americas.
 7 Ater Majok LBN What a season this has been for Ater Majok. In his second year playing for US Monastir in the Basketball Africa League (BAL), the 2.1M (6’1”) center helped the team to win a championship for the first time. Majok did so by recording 13.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 64.8 percent from the floor, good enough for a spot on the 2022 All-BAL First Team, All-Defense Team, and was named Defensive Player of the Year. Lebanon’s opponents over this summer had better watch out.
 6 Ra GunA KOR It’s only been a few years since Ra GunA made his Korea national team debut during the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. He’s been a terrorizing force for Korea since and even led the World Cup in scoring and rebounding. Ra is as close to any player is to being an automatic 20-10 double-double and will definitely be a top player for Korea at Asia Cup 2022 this summer.
 5 Hamed Haddadi IRI Even at 37-years-old, Hamed Haddadi can impact the game so many ways on the court which was put on display in his whopping four triple-doubles recorded in his recent season with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the CBA. While it’s incredible to watch and witness how good Haddadi is playing, it’s even more incredible considering that he’s been the pillar for Iran basketball for nearly 2 decades… and looks like he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
 4 Marques Bolden INA Among the players on this list, Bolden is the only one who has yet to have played for the national team in a FIBA event… but that should certainly change this summer. Bolden has been a key force for Indonesia in their preparation process whether it was during their historical Southeast Asian Games run or the tour of exhibition games in Australia they are currently going through.
Bolden has experience playing in the NBA as well as the G-League where he played last season. The former Duke Blue Devil will be a debut to anticipate, whether it will be in Window 3 of the World Cup Qualifiers or at the Asia Cup.
Profil Marques Bolden, Pemain Naturalisasi Jebolan NBA yang Mengukir  Sejarah di SEA Games 2021 - Sportstars.Id
 3 Matthew Dellavedova AUS Of the players that will be playing this summer, Dellavedova will indeed be boasting one of the most illustrious careers, professionally and with the national team. The NBA champion has 9 years of NBA experience under his belt. He is a three-time Olympian and two-time Boomer at the World Cup with an Olympic bronze medal. There’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the biggest stars in Asia basketball this summer.
 2  Zhou Qi CHN It feels a bit weird that Zhou is only 26 years old, since Asia basketball fans have been watching him play with the senior national team since Asia Cup 2015 where he immediately became a champion. Seven years later, the former Houston Rocket has emerged as one of Asia’s best players and biggest stars and has stepped up as a leader for the China national team.
Zhou is coming off his first season in Australia’s NBL, starting all but one game for the South East Melbourne Phoenix to average 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.
 1  Yuta Watanabe JPN An exciting summer is coming up for Japan with Yuta Watanabe named to the 24-player preliminary roster. The 2.06M (6’9”) forward is coming off his fourth season playing in the NBA and second season with the Toronto Raptors we’re carved out a role as a key defensive piece of the lineup. He’ll be expected to bring offensive power with him as well when he suits up for Japan as he did during both the Tokyo Olympics (17.7 points per game) and World Cup 2019 (15.2 points per game).
All eyes will be on Japan this summer with Yuta Watanabe commanding the spotlight as one of the biggest stars in the competition.


*Disclaimer: Players listed in this article are only speculated to be playing according to announcements from National Federations and general news but do not necessarily correspond to the rosters that will play at Window 3 of the World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers or the FIBA Asia Cup 2022.

**The rankings are entirely subjective based on recent events/results/announcements and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.