#FIBAAsiaU18: Eight talents to watch at 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship

Chen Yu-Wei (TPE)
(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on my weekly column on FIBA.com.

The 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship will light up Tehran with some of the most promising young talents this side of the basketball universe.

Many of the players on this list are names we’ll see for only the first time at this level of competition, and it would do us well to be aware of the kind of impact that they can potentially make. Some of these young men, because of their sheer size, will make an imprint on the tournament, while some should also stamp their class, given their experience and skill-set. One thing is for certain, though — each and every one of the following should be in our radar when the competition begins on July 22.

Fan Ziming (China)
The 2.10m Fan has actually been a veteran of China’s youth teams. He first played in the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Germany and then the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, UAE. He mainly played at the far end of the bench in that tournament, but he is expected to have a big role this year as China seek to defend their U18 championship. Given Fan’s height and heft, he should be a tough match-up for most teams in the tournament.

Amirhossein Azari (Iran)
Azari is even more of a veteran of international competitions than Fan. The 1.92m wingman from Tehran started playing for Team Melli’s youth team in the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship, averaging around 7 points and 5 rebounds. He also saw action in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship, putting up 3.6 points per outing. He has not met a three-point shot he doesn’t like, and he is heralded as one of the home team’s sharp-shooters in this competition. If he gets going from the perimeter, Iran could give other teams a whole lot of trouble.

Avi Schafer (Japan)
At 2.03m, the Japanese-American Schafer will certainly add much needed size to a Nippon team looking to make their mark after their U16 counterparts broke into the top four of the FIBA Asia U16 Championship last year. Japan have missed the podium in each of the last eight editions of the continental U18 tournament, but with a lot of promising players surrounding Schafer, coach Torsten Loibl’s squad are looking to have another breakout performance this time around. If Schafer can effectively anchor their inside game, they should be a force to reckon with.

Nikita Timofeyev (Kazakhstan)
Standing 1.98m, Timofeyev may not be the most physically imposing frontcourt player in the tournament, but his time spent in Kazakhstan’s top pro division with BK Almaty Legion this past season should make him one of the de facto leaders on coach Eduard Skrypets’s team. Despite his youth, Timofeyev figured in more than his fair share of games for Almaty, showing a lot of potential as a strong inside presence. If he can bring that kind of fire here, Kazahstan should make a strong impression.

Han Seunghui (Korea)
Much of the attention for this Korean side has been focused on their “Big Three” of Yang Jaemin, Shin Minsuk and Lee Junghyun, but close followers of Asian hoops should also know that the 2.00m Han is also one to keep tabs on. The native of Seoul last saw action for the national team in the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship, serving as one of the team’s best inside scorers and rebounders. He averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest then, and he should produce even bigger numbers here.

Joshua Sinclair (Philippines)
Sinclair is no stranger to fans of FIBA 3x3, having played in two editions already. He has also attracted a lot of attention in Manila after helping Batang Gilas conquer the 2016 SEABA U18 Championship earlier this year. The 1.93m Filipino-Australian is expected to play as many as three positions for coach Michael Oliver. He has the shooting and ball-handling to be an effective wing player, but his size and length enable him to spot minutes at the 4 and even 5 positions. He along with veteran campaigner Jolo Mendoza will carry much of the load for the Philippines.

A photo posted by Joshua Sinclair (@joshuasinclair6) on

Justin Bassey (Thailand)
Not much is known about this Thai-American, but the native of Chicago, Illinois is set to explode on the scene and be a potential crowd-drawer. Early reports have Bassey as an athletic and versatile player who has the skills of a guard, but who will probably see a lot of time in the frontcourt for the relatively small Thai quintet. Bassey comes in with impressive credentials, averaging 23.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals a game for Colorado Academy in the United States.

Chen Yu-Wei (Chinese Taipei)
The Taipei team of the past two years have been spearheaded by the likes of Lin Ting-Chien, Tang Wei-Chieh and beanpole Wu Pei-Chia, but this year’s U18 squad will certainly be Chen Yu-Wei’s team. Chen is a fast rising star in Taipei hoops, and he is known for being a smart and speedy playmaker. He led the Chinese Taipei U16 squad in assists last year with 6.6 per game, and he should be even more of an offensive threat this year as coach Hsu Shih-Ching will probably rely on him and another spitfire guard, Kao Kuo-Hao, to lead the charge.




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bakit wala yung 6"9 ng taipei