2011 FIBA-Asia Men's Championships Micro-Preview: Group A

(image from FIBAAsia.net)

After the Jump: Team-by-Team Key Players, Points of Interest and Outlooks for South Korea, Lebanon, India and Malaysia.

(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Player Focus: Cameron Stevenson
- Korean-American Cameron Stevenson (Moon Tae-Jong) proved to be a reliable shooter for Korea in the 2011 Jones Cup. He can also put the ball on the floor and drive strong to the hole. He's past his prime, though, and that might hamper him. If Hur Jae over-relies on him, then it'll be to the detriment of the Koreans.
Point of Interest: Will frontline hold?
- With (in my opinion) top center Lee Seung-Jun and effective PF Lee Dong-Jun (a.k.a. the Sandrin brothers, Eric & Daniel respectively), left at home in favor of Stevenson (the Koreans opted to use just one Kor-Am), Hur Jae's frontline might not hold when they reach the deep waters of the tourney. Against the likes of Hamed Haddadi, Arsalan Kazemi, Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jianlian, and Zaid Abbas, guys like the undersized Oh Se-Keun, the aging KIm Joo-Sung or the lumbering Ha Seung-Jin might prove to be too brittle to offer much resistance.
Outlook: Top 4
- Korea has a good chance to sweep Group A, but might be troubled by Iran, Qatar and even the Taiwanese come the second round. Given their balanced lineup, however, they should go deep and make a run for the gold.

(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Player Focus: Rodrigue Akl
- I won't even try to pronounce his name, but that's not really the thing we should focus on here. At 22, he's one of the youngest on the squad, and yet he's been given the responsibilities of team captain. That alone should indicate his importance in the team. He should be Lebanon's top PG as he led them in assists in the recent Champions Cup.
Point of Interest: No Tiger = No Chance?
- With Fadi El-Khatib opting to sit out the competition, Lebanon's chances nosedive. They still have a competent and potent crew that can mix it up with the big boys, but when push comes to shove in the latter rounds, they'll find that nobody can replace the presence and scoring of the Lebanese Tiger.
Outlook: Top 8
- Lebanon should finish #2 in Group A and fight for a quarterfinals slot in the second round. They're good enough to edge out the Taiwanese, but might be the underdogs against Iran, Korea and Qatar.

(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Player Focus: Vishesh Bhriguvanshi
- The versatile guard-forward is expected to be India's most potent weapon in Wuhan. Though he won't score in the 20s or 30s against the top teams, he should serve to impress. He'll be the big difference when India advances at the expense of Malaysia, but he'll be hard-pressed to do well against the likes of Korea and Lebanon.
Point of Interest: India on the rise?
- India topped their sub-group in fascinating fashion, but expectations should be tempered when the Wuhan joust starts. They have a couple of players who can compete at this level, but by-and-large they'll be whipped by the stronger teams.
Outlook: Top 12
- Barring an upset at the hands of the Malaysians, India should get into the 2nd round, but against Iran, Qatar, and Taiwan, they won't go further than that.

(image from FIBAAsia.net)
Player Focus: Chee Li Wei
- The 6'6" center-forward will have his work cut out for him against the taller trees in Group A, but he should still be Malaysia's main man. He was consistently good in the 2011 Jones Cup and should score in the teens here. 
Point of Interest: Can they crack the 2nd round?
- Malaysia surprised many by beating UAE in the 2011 Jones Cup, so upsetting a team like India and making the second round isn't an impossibility. Having said that, they will still sail through rough seas and might be better-served to use this as preparation for the 2011 SEA Games.
Outlook: Bottom 4
- On paper, the Malaysians are the weakest team in Groups A & B, and they will probably get their first win only when they play for the lower placings.

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