Young talents from U19 Women's World Cup signals bright future for Asia-Oceania
BANGKOK (Thailand) - If you haven’t heard already, let’s repeat it here again: women’s basketball is on the rise and women’s basketball in Asia is right up there among the best of them. So make sure you hop aboard on the bandwagon before it gets crowded.
Check out some of these top young talents that we might be seeing in the Women’s Asia Cup sometime soon in the future from the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2019!
The Opals, Australia’s senior women’s national team, are one of the best in the world, so it was not a surprise that the Gems, the youth women’s national team, made it all the way to the Final of the U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup. Moreover, they even pushed the mighty Team USA to an overtime session.
Jaz Shelley was nearly a national hero as her fearless drives put the Gems up by 5 with only a few minutes left in the fourth quarter. She also actually put up a decent shot at the end of regulation for the win that barely clanged off the rim. Australia were unable to win in overtime, but Shelley was had arguably her best game of the competition with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
She went on to have a successful first year in the NCAA with the Oregon Ducks since, averaging 6.3 points per game in her freshman year. It seems like we’re only counting down the days before Shelley eventually makes her debut with the Opals. She was also a part of the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in 2018.
Though Alexandra Fowler didn’t pour in the points like her teammate, she played as much of a vital part in getting the Games all the way through to the final game. Fowler only had 8 points in the championship game, but did her part on the defense end with 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Throughout the tournament, Fowler led the team in both points (9.0) and rebounds (10.0) per game.
Like Shelley, Fowler also spent the past year in the NCAA with the Portland Pilots where she averaged a head-turning line of 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest. She’s been honing her craft and making her way towards becoming the next great post player for the Opals in the future.
Been there, done that
China were impressive in this tournament and ended up in fifth-place with a hard-earned win against Canada in the classification game.
Leading the way was their star guard Li Yuan, who averaged 14.0 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.9 rebounds despite standing at only 1.70M (5’7”) tall. In the final game against Canada, Li was spectacular with a personal tournament-high of 23 points on 4 three-pointers. This should come to no surprise as this was already Li’s second U19 World Cup, having starred for China back in 2017 as well.
As a matter of fact, Li had already played for the senior national team at the global stage as a back-up guard for China at the Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2018. She was also a participant of the BWB Global Camp in 2018.
While Li was crossing opposing defenders up with her sweet handles, Chen Mingling was crashing the boards and getting the work done down in the paint. Though she is not a super-sized center like fellow rising star Han Xu, Chen does a good job of combining mobility and strength. She averaged 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, highlighted by back-to-back double-doubles to close out the tournament.
Chen has also already cracked into the senior national team rotation, recently playing for the squad at the Women’s Asia Cup 2019 where she won a silver medal along with Li Yuan.
It might be a bit difficult to highlight a specific player from Japan as they play well within their roles and a synchronized unit. Whether it’s the all-around scoring of Nanako Todo, the inside presence of Layla Takehara, or the leadership of Yusuka Ishihara, it all just works for eighth-placed Japan.
One player who was able to do a little bit of everything and has taken a big step forward in her career since the U19 Women’s World Cup in Bangkok, however, was Norika Konno. The shooting guard ranked among the top 3 on her team in points, rebounds, and assists and ended up with consistent production of 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.
After the tourney in Bangkok, Konno went on to play in the NCAA with the Louisville Cardinals. Before a mid-season injury, Konno was doing well with averages of 4.6 points per game coming off the bench.
Korea finished up right behind Japan at 9th place, closing out the tournament with a win over Hungary. Starring for Korea was Park Jihyun who stood out as the leading scorer of the entire competition with 16.4 points per game. This included 26 points on a perfect 11/11 from the charity stripe against USA as her highest total.
Park has also long been considered a rising talent, as evident when she participated the BWB Global Camp in 2018.
Park’s reputation as a scoring machine has dated back to ever since she played in the U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2016 and the U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2017, so it’s only fitting that she continued to do so in Bangkok. Additionally, she’s also played for the senior national team as well at the Women’s World Cup in 2018.
Looking Forward to the Future
Experience is important, especially for players at this age. That’s why being able to play against the world’s best at the U19 Women’s World Cup will be an experience to remember and learn from for the hosts Thailand.
One of the most promising prospects that Thailand might be able to build around in the future is Yada Sriharaksa. Listed as a center, Sriharaksa led the team in scoring with 9.9 points per game while shooting an impressive 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. She also had 19 points and 18 points against Latvia and Hungary, respectively.
Though Sriharaksa and Thailand were unable to claim a win here, they had some inspiring first half performances against the likes of Canada, Germany, and Latvia.