The #FIBAAsiaChallenge 2016 Magnificent Seven

Mohammad Shaher Hussein (JOR)
(image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on my weekly column on

For the better part of this past week, the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 being held in Tehran, Iran has enthralled basketball fans all over the continent. With a healthy mix of tried-and-tested veterans and young, up-and-coming talents, the tournament has given hoop nuts from the Middle East and Far East great hardcourt action.

Some players have stepped up, some have surprised, and some have delivered on their potential. Today, I’ll talk about what I call the Magnificent Seven — the seven best players of the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016 as of this moment.

Quincy Davis
As expected, the 2.03m big man has been the rock in the middle for Chinese Taipei. He has scored at least 14 points in every game so far, helping his squad win thrice in five games. In their latest game against China, Davis actually didn’t miss any shot. He made all nine of his field goals and went 1-of-1 from the line. He may need to step up a bit more, though, especially as star forward Liu Cheng may have sustained a serious injury against the Chinese.

Dar Tucker
Here is another naturalized player who has really stamped his class. He exploded onto the scene with a 29-point effort in his very first game, and he hasn’t really slowed down since. He has scored a combined 72 points in his last two games and has been pretty much unstoppable whether he’s shooting from the perimeter or attacking the basket. If Jordan ends up in the top five of the tournament, Tucker will be a big reason why.

Hu Jinqiu
Hu is the youngest guy on this list, but, boy, he has been playing like a grizzled veteran. He averages a near-double-double of 20.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as coach Li has made him China’s number one weapon. He isn’t as long as Zhou Qi nor as wide as Wang Zhelin, but he has a more polished and versatile offensive game than possibly those two combined. That’s how good this kid is.

Ira Brown
Brown is one of the smallest power forwards in this competition at just 1.93m, but he plays much bigger and heftier than his size. He averaged a herculean 14.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per ballgame in Japan’s first four games, and he will surely continue to figure prominently for them as they strive to meet their ultimate goal of finishing among the top five. Whereas guys like Makoto Hiejima and Naoto Tsuji bring the speed and shooting, Brown brings the muscle for the Japanese.

Mohammad Shaher Hussein
Hussein has always been a promising center for Jordan, but the 2.06m 26-year-old seems to finally be delivering on all that potential. After a slow start against China, Hussein has scored in double-figures in Jordan’s last four assignments, including a dominant 26-point, 13-rebound outing against the Filipinos. If Hussein can be consistent with that kind of production, watch Jordan continue to soar.

Amritpal Singh
Aside from Brown and Davis, another big man who has been norming a double-double is Indian giant Amritpal Singh. The 2.07m 25-year-old center has scored in double-figures in every game so far, and he has also hauled down double-digit rebounding against Taipei, Jordan and China. Singh has been steadily improving since debuting for the national team in 2012, and it looks like the best is yet to come for this Indian behemoth. It’s hard to believe he started playing basketball just six years ago!

A photo posted by Basketball Federation of India (@india_basketball) on

Mac Belo
One of the most pleasant surprises in this event has been Filipino hotshot Mac Belo. Belo, not the most heralded young gun coming of out college back home, has turned a lot of heads in Tehran. As of this writing, he is the second-leading scorer inthe tournament right behind Tucker with 20.2 points and 50% field goal shooting. He has been nothing short of a whirlwind for coach Josh Reyes, and he has been this young squad’s brightest star. Mark my words, watch out for this kid.




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