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Glimpse into the future: Standouts from Asia & Oceania from U19 World Cup
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Glimpse into the future: Standouts from Asia & Oceania from U19 World Cup

RIGA (Latvia) - Taking a glimpse into the future is always a fun exercise. Fans of Asia Cup basketball certainly enjoyed peeking into the future at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2021 in Latvia as the bright young stars of Asia & Oceania put on display what fans should expect in the upcoming few years.

Here are some of the highlights from the best youngsters in Asia & Oceania at the U19 World Cup!

Damn, Daniels

Australia’s Dyson Daniels had been generating buzz ever since he made his national team debut back in February when he dropped 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. It was just only one game against New Zealand, but he firmly put his name on the radar with that breakout performance.

The spotlight was on Daniels once again at the U19 World Cup and Daniels put on a performance worthy of those expectations. Across all 7 games, Daniels led the team in scoring (14.0 points per game) and assists (4.6 per game) while also ranking second in rebounds (5.3 per game). This resulted in Daniels ending up as the Top Performer for the Emus with an efficiency rating of 16.4 per game as well.

Chemistry on Point

While the trail blazers of Iran basketball, Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkah Bahrami, are still both playing at a high level on the court, there’s no denying that they are heading into the latter stages of their careers. That’s why Iran are so invested in bringing up the next generation of talent and the class at the U19 World Cup could be that next wave of stars to keep Iran among Asia Cup’s best.

The 12-strong Iran roster in Latvia all play on the same club and that chemistry was on display as they were able to secure two wins in Latvia. If beating Puerto Rico, 81-68, wasn’t impressive enough already, Iran also later went on to beat 2017 finalists Mali, 71-59, a few days later.

Parsa Fallah (12) was one of the youngest players on the team for Iran as well aas one of the most productive with averages of 14.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.

Ahead of the Pack

There were plenty of talented scorers at the U19 World Cup whether it was Canada’s Caleb Houstan, Serbia’s Nikola Jovic, or Spain’s Ruben Dominguez. However, the only player to average over 20 points per contest to lead all players in scoring was none other than Korea’s Yeo Jun Seok.

Yeo is the only player in the competition to have flew in directly from playing at the senior national team level at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers and FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and it showed how much the experience benefitted the young big man.

Aside from leading the tournament in scoring at 25.6 points per game, Yeo was also one of only two to average a double-double with a second-best 10.6 boards per contest.

Korea are known for having sharp-shooters scattered throughout their talent pool, but now that can rest assured that they also have a big man of the future waiting to breakout.

Rising Sun

Serbia might have eventually finished at 4th place of the U19 World Cup, but they were actually so close to not even making it out of the Round of 16 when Japan pushed them to the brink. Though Japan only lead in that game for less than a minute, they managed to go toe-to-toe against Serbia and never trailed by more than 4 points in the final quarter.

It might not have resulted in what could have been the biggest upset of the competition, but it was certainly a game that these rising stars of Japan can learn and benefit from in the long run.

One of those young stars that shined brightest for Japan was Ibu Yamazaki. Though having only just turned 18, Yamazaki was pegged as a player to watch for Japan heading into the competition with his extensive success at the high school level. In Latvia, he was the leading scorer for Japan with 14.6 points on 43.9 percent shooting from downtown. He should continue to be a player on the radar for Asia Cup fans for many years to come.