Sotto, Wigness lead Mythical Selection

Kai Sotto

FOSHAN (FIBA U16 Asian Championship) – The confetti from the FIBA U16 Asian Championship has has been scooped up, and now it’s time for us to look back and see which players played the best.

Of course, it was great seeing so much young talent and so many promising players on display this past week in Foshan, but it’s time to take the cream of the crop and sift it even more. Presented here are practically the top ten players from the entire competition, separated by position into the #FIBAU16Asia Mythical First and Second Teams.

Mythical First Team:

C – Kai Sotto (Philippines)

The 7ft 1in (2.16m) Filipino has become man, myth and legend in this age where social media explodes with the latest trend, and boy did his star shine on it these past few days. His back-to-back monster games against Japan and China carried him into the stratosphere as the tournament’s most efficient player. It’s a no-brainer he is here.

F – Luke Jackson (Australia)

Jackson is the only player on this First Team that did not average double-figure scoring, but he is the only player NOT 6ft 10in (2.08m) or taller to grab nearly 11 rebounds a game. In addition, he got 2.0 steals per contest and shot the ball 50.0% from the field. Jackson was absolutely dependable in every game for the Aussies, especially in their shaky Quarter-Finals joust with Korea, where He had 12 points and a mind-boggling 17 rebounds.

F – Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (Australia)

Wani had a pedestrian start to the tournament in the group phase, but he stepped up when it counted the most, earning him the moniker “Mr. Clutch.” The 6ft 5in (1.95m) forward was one of the most versatile players in the entire competition, able to guard practically any position on the floor. He led Australia in scoring by the tournament’s end as well after averaging more than 19 points per game in their final three assignments.

G – Sun Haoqin (China)

Unlike Wani, Sun is not exactly an all-around type of player, but what he is supposed to do for China, he does outstandingly. That’s to score, of course, and he was among a select few to score more than 20 points per game in the tournament. He notched double-digit scoring in every contest, and he was also among those who played the most minutes with an average of 32.5 minutes per encounter. He is an underrated defender, but certainly it’s scoring that will be his calling card in the near future.

G – Tamuri Wigness (Australia)

What a finish Wigness had in this tournament. Like Wani, this 6ft 0in (1.82m) kid did not break out early in the competition, but his performances in the Semi-Finals and Final served notice of how good he really is. And, fine, maybe being compared to Kyrie Irving is something he has not warranted yet, but he is definitely on the right path. It’s pretty exciting to imagine the kind of impact he will make in the #FIBAU17 Basketball World Cup later this year.

Mythical Second Team
C – Aizimaiti Aizimaiti (China)
Whereas Kai Sotto had his imposing size to lean on, all Aizimaiti had, especially when ranged against bigger guys was his great footwork, upper body strength and soft touch. Those worked in his favor as he was repeatedly called upon to fill in for the inconsistent Jiao Boqiao in the middle. Aizimaiti scored in double-figures in three of China’s five games, including lifting them in crucial stretches of the Final against Australia. As long as he continues to put in the effort, there is a good future for this kid in China.

F – Matin Aghajanpour (Iran)
This list would not be complete without this impressive forward from Iran who dropped a tournament-high 39 points. The 6ft 6in (1.98m) Aghajanpour was an offensive dynamo for Team Melli as he was able to score literally from every spot on the floor. He could post up, face up, drive to the basket, finish in transition and shoot from beyond the arc. He was also a decent rebounder with more than 8 boards per game.

F – Luke Travers (Australia)
Another Australian who epitomized versatility and consistency. From the start, Travers made his presence felt with his length, athleticism and hustle, and it paid dividends for the Crocs all throughout the tournament as he had double-digit efficiency ratings in every game. He saved his best for last, though, tallied 22 points along with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks for Australia in their title-clinching victory over China.

G – Mitchell Dance (New Zealand)
At around 6ft 3in (1.90m) and given his broad shoulders, Dance is not the prototypical FIBA Asia guard, and he sure as hell played like someone who broke the mold. Dance is clearly a gifted scorer as he is able to hit midrange and long range shots with the same effectiveness as his daredevil drives to the basket. He often proved to be a mismatch for opposing teams’ guards given his build and his play-style, scoring at least 12 points in every game the Junior Tall Blacks played.

G – Tom Cowie (New Zealand)
In what was maybe the most important game for New Zealand, Cowie starred. He unloaded 17 points on the back of 3 triples along with 5 assists and 2 blocked shots as they upset Iran in the Quarter-Finals to book their tickets to the #FIBAU17 Basketball World Cup. He made at least one three-pointer in each of New Zealand’s contests and often served as a stabilizing presence of the team when the going got tough, with his spunk and swag giving the squad a unique character.

Honorable Mentions:
Moon JeongHyeon (Korea)
Cha MinSeok (Korea)
Rayan Zanbaka (Lebanon)
Lu Pengyu (China)
Keisei Tominaga (Japan)