09/23/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/23/2019 06:23
BENGALURU (India) - The FIBA Women's Asia Cup is back and will be commencing action from September 24-29 in Bengaluru, India. As always, there will be exciting teams, players, and storylines for fans to enjoy throughout the entire competition. Just to get everyone hyped up and on the same page, here are 10 important reason why everyone should be looking forward to the FIBA Women's Asia Cup!
1. Back in Bengaluru
The city of Bengaluru has been one of the most active spots for Women's basketball over the past few years. From hosting the FIBA U16 Women's Asian Championship and Women's Asia Cup both Divisions A and B in 2017 to the U18 Women's Asian Championship in the following year, the people of Bengaluru and India have gained quite an appetite for the game.
The Women's Asia Cup 2019 Division A returns to be played at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium once again and the home crowd will be more than ready to root for their team, who have made their way back to the largest stage of women's basketball in Asia.
2. Fantastic Four for Japan?
Korea were the first to do it from 1978-1984. China then did it from 1990-1995. At FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019, all eyes will be on Japan whether they can be the 3rd team to complete the four-peat after winning consecutive times in 2013, 2015, and 2017.
It surely won't be a cakewalk for Japan. In 2017, they had to go on an inspiring run against China in the Semi-finals and Australia in the Finals to come out with close wins. Though they are returning two-time MVP Ramu Tokashiki, they will need to fill in the huge void left by retired legendary point guard Asami Yoshida who won't be playing for Japan for first time after 6 straight Women's Asia Cups.
3. Opals' Road to Redemption
Heading into the Women's Asia Cup 2017 title game, it seemed as if Australia might just cruise their way on to the win. They had been victorious in all of their previous games of their Asia Cup debut, winning by an average margin of 26.3 points per game. Instead, Saki Mizushima caught fire for Japan and the Opals ended up in second place.
That will undoubtedly light a fire in the 2019 squad that are aiming for their first Asia Cup gold. Six players who won the silver medal at the Women's Basketball World Cup have been lined up to lead the team in India, including WNBA standouts Rebecca Allen and Leilani Mitchell. The big question is; will that be enough?
4. Returning to the top for China
China dominated the Women's Asia Cup for a little over 2 decades from 1990 to 2011, winning 9 titles and missing out on a podium finish only once. The stretch of Japan's three-peat has been the longest span since 1990 that China hasn't won an Asia Cup.
(China, FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2011)
That is a streak that China hopes to put an end to in Bengaluru. Shao Ting and Han Xu, both of who played in the WNBA this past season, are listed to headline the national team this time along with Li Yueru who had a breakout performance in 2017. As long as those three and 2011 champion Gao Song suiting up for China, they will be a contender without a doubt.
5. Continued growth of Gilas Pilipinas Womens
The Philippines were promoted to Division A for the first time in 2015 and they've made continuous efforts in development to stay at this level. The players have made strides forward along with head coach Patrick Aquino at the helm and hopefully it can result in their retention of Division A status along with a trip to the Pre-Olympic Qualifiers Tournament this year by avoid an 8th place finish.
Kelli Hayes is an intriguing addition to the squad and she sets to make her Asia Cup debut with the Philippines, but it will have to be a team effort for Gilas Pilipinas Womens to be able to achieve their goals in India.
6. Welcome to the Big Stage
This will be the 28th FIBA Women's Asia Cup, the largest event for Women's basketball in Asia. The years of the competition changes, but the fact remains the same that this is the highest stage that there is.
As usual, the stakes are high at the Women's Asia Cup. The winners of the tournament secure bragging rights as the best team in Asia for the next two years, while the 8th-placed team will be relegated to Division B and miss out playing in the FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The teams have displayed how much they want to win over the years, so fans should expect nothing less this time around.
7. Star power on display
There will be no shortage of stars on the hardwood this year at the Women's Asia cup. The defending champions will be bringing 2-time MVP and former Seattle Storm Ramu Tokashiki. Australia has Rebecca 'Spida' Allen where she'll play against China's Han Xu; this coming after their first WNBA season together as New York Liberty teammates.
China will also have Shao Ting who played with the Minnesota Lynx this season and has been a consistent star for the national team. The Opals roster is more than just Allen, as she will also be joined by 2-time WNBA Most Improved Player, Leilani Mitchell, along with other highly-touted players.
8. Next in Line
Aside from the proven stars, there will be quite a number of rising prospects ready to make their splash at the Asia Cup. One of the brightest young players will be FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup 2016 MVP Ezi Magbegor of Australia. The 20-year-old was a first round pick in the recent WNBA draft and was also a part of the 2018 World Cup team.
(Ezi Magbegor, FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup 2016)
China will also be featuring a pair of talented young players in the aforementioned Han Xu and speedster Li Yuan. Despite being just 18-years-old at the time, both were statistical leaders for China at the World Cup with Han leading in rebounds (6.1 per game) and Li leading in assists (4.3 per game). This is without even mentioning 20-year-old Li Yueru who led China in scoring and rebounds at the previous Asia Cup with 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
(Li Yueru, FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2017)
Korea's Park Jihyun was a star scorer for the youth national team at the recent FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2019. She's also been called up to the senior level to test if she can do it at this level, too.
9. Inspiring the next generation
Nonetheless, whether the stars shining at the Women's Asia Cup 2019 are familiar faces or fresh debutants, it's pretty exciting to know that they will be the ones inspiring the next generation of female ballers all across the region.
You never know if the young girl watching Rebecca Allen knock down three after three or Li Yuan crossing her defenders up might just be dazzled enough to start taking up the sport and become the next big thing in women's basketball herself.
10. Forgetting to catch your breath
There is already a detailed list of memorable games from past Women's Asia Cup, but take this as another reminder that these games might be pretty intense - and that's why you really shouldn't miss any of the action that will be going down in India.
Meanwhile, it these games go down to the wire - which they surely will - don't forget to catch your breath in between the breaks of the game!
Don't let previous matchups cloud your perspective to enjoy each game ahead at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2019 from September 24-29 in Bengaluru, India - because you never know when the next 'Saki Mizushima moment' will be!