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Asian player stock market - buy, keep or take a chance on?
MIES (Switzerland) - There's a long list of exciting and quality Asian ballers out there, but who's stock is sky high right now, who should you put your faith in and who should you take a chance on?
If you consider that amazing talent as a precious commodity, we picked 12 Asian players who might provoke a different response on a player stock market. Although with a huge event to come this year, like the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney, things could change very quickly.
The list below follows on from our previous European player stock market HERE.
Stephanie Mawuli - Japan
With such diverse skills, some of which have also been honed through her love of 3x3, Mawuli is becoming more and more prominent in a talent-packed Japan team. The Olympic silver medalists and FIBA Women's AsiaCup champions will be one of the favorites for a medal at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and if Mawuli continues to play like this, they certainly have a huge 'X-Factor' baller whose dynamic play can give them an added dimension to all that shooting power elsewhere. Deservedly making the All-Star Five in Osaka at the Qualifying Tournament, it's been a good 2022 calendar year for Mawuli who also just won the WJBL title with Toyota Antelopes. But is there even more joy to come when she steps out in Sydney?
Sami Whitcomb - Australia
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Billed as the marquee star for the hosts at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, you surely have to buy up stocks in Whitcomb and back her to deliver for the Opals - despite the pressure and expectations. Her experience, scoring ability and smarts will rise to the fore and if she gets anywhere near the influence she had in taking a young Australia team to the FIBA Women's Asia Cup podium last year, then another medal could be forthcoming. Remember that with her on board when she made her major tournament debut four years ago, she was instrumental in the Opals making the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Final in Tenerife and without her in situ in Tokyo, Australia looked a little short on scoring power and verve in their backcourt when they stepped out in Tokyo.
Sijing Huang - China
When heading into the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament, there were some whispers about Huang being the most underrated player in the women's global game. That theory had been accelerated via her terrific contributions at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup last year. She then duly erupted and was the TISSOT MVP in Belgrade after lighting it up in a big way. Her size, athleticism, willingness to put the ball on the floor and use her excellent shooting range makes her a big problem for opponents. She is so tall and a real force on the wing. She will be leading light for China as they bid to finish on the podium in Sydney.
Jisu Park - Korea
Was it the greatest triple-double the women's game has seen at the international level? Very possibly. The phenomenal efforts of Park catapulted her team to the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and those who saw this special performance in Belgrade against Brazil will never forget it - especially those 11 blocks. Sorely missed at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021 when unable to play, Korea are a different team with the center in their lineup and you have just got to buy into everything about her, from her skills and performances, to her leadership and personality. She is a bonafide star and incredibly getting ready to appear at her third Women's Basketball World Cup.
HOLD ONTO YOUR STOCKS
Ezi Magbegor - Australia
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Even if she missed out for the Opals at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Serbia because of injury back in February, there is no doubt that she will return to make a big splash as a top performer in Sydney. When Australia struggled at Tokyo 2020, she was arguably the best player at the prestigious event and that spoke volumes about her growing influence. Also, she has just posted another eye-catching WNBL campaign, shooting almost 60 percent from the floor en-route to guiding Melbourne Boomers to the title. With quick feet and her athleticism, she is going to be such a handful for opposing defences when the ball is thrown up in Sydney.
Yueru Li - China
Despite still only being 23-years-old, Li has now established herself as one of the best frontcourt players in the global game. She is unstoppable down low because of her size, post moves and deceptive quickness. She has become the centerpiece for China and if you get her the ball under the basket, it's money - simple as that. She is putting up huge numbers and was sensational at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup last year, as well as in Belgrade at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament. She is as impressive and as consistent as any player could dream of being on a basketball court.
Himawari Akaho - Japan
A player who is making defense cool again, she is not only doing that in the 'run and gun' Japanese team, but leading them with some telling offensive contributions too. She was crowned FIBA Women's Asia Cup MVP last year when her nation secured a fifth straight Continental title and her block in the last second of the Semi-Final against Australia was the kind of game-winning play that she gained recognition for. Akaho followed up this great work by making the All-Star Five at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Osaka. Few if any ballers work as relentlessly as the forward and she is also capable of draining some big scores on offense too, with her impressive shooting range.
Afril Bernardino - Philippines
When Philippines headed to the FIBA Women's Asia Cup just over six months ago, they were without a couple of their biggest hitters who could not make it to Amman and it meant they were in imminent danger of relegation and tumbling into Division B. However, they did still have Bernardino in their lineup and this exciting baller went to some absolute work as she carried her team's hopes on her shoulders and to the safety of another stint in the top flight. A scoring sensation when she goes off, hold onto any stocks in Bernardino because she is massive fun to watch too.
TAKE A CHANCE ON
Anneli Maley - Australia
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With almost 20 points and 16 rebounds per game for the Bendigo Spirit, it's not surprise Maley was the WNBL MVP and that has put her even more centrally on the radar as a potential late roster pick for the Opals at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup. Even if she didn't play in Belgrade at the Qualifying Tournament, she's since been added to the wider squad and is now living up to her reputation as an absolute rebounding machine. She was exceptional for the Gems at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup as Australia almost upset the USA in 2019 and is continuing to evolve impressively. Even if competition under the basket is fierce for the Opals right now, you would not back against her being a mainstay for the senior national team for the next decade and beyond.
Monica Okoye - Japan
With a glut of star names and willing contributors all over the floor, it's hard to make a name for yourself as a Japanese baller, but perhaps that suits Okoye. She's turning into the 'silent assassin' for Japan. While the so-called big names write their headlines, she so often steps up to hit big time shots from outside. It is turning into her speciality, even though she is a forward. We all know that Japan players can shoot whatever their position, so there is nothing unusual about this, but she has such a knack of draining a momentum-shifting three or delivering a true dagger when needed. She shone at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup and even if she was not at her best in Osaka in the Qualifying Tournament for Sydney, you should expect her to rediscover her form.
Liwei Yang - China
Making a case as one of the most effective and prominent 'late bloomers' on the international stage, the guard is becoming more and more of an influence for China. Her quickness and most impressively her composure and ability to get to the hoop in traffic and readjust where necessary, is seriously impressive. She played terrific cameos in Belgrade at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament behind the headline efforts of Sijing Huang and Yueru Li. She also did some good stuff at the FIBA Women's AsiaCup last year. So while not always a headline act for her team, if she continues on this trajectory, she might soon be!
Shyla Heal - Australia
With the Opals looking to replenish their backcourt options in the medium to long term, it looks like Heal is a lock to play a huge role in this having impressed at youth level with the Sapphires and Gems, propelling them to bronze and silver at the FIBA U17 and U19 Women's Basketball World Cups. Now the guard has stepped out for the Opals at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournament, she may also be a solution in the short-term and is aiming for a dream spot in Sydney. Even more so as Heal is from the area and has impressed in the WNBL again with 15 points and 4 assists per game.
Disclaimer: The player stock market are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the expert.