In the previous post in this series, we looked at the TOP FIVE FIBA Asia Small Forwards. These are the wing players who usually carry the bulk of the offense of any given team. More often than not, these are players who can do practically everything – penetrating, sniping, and playmaking.
In this post, Part 4 in our series, we will look at a position that pretty much defines the international game – the shooting guard. Shooting guards are usually the players with the deadliest touch from long range. Historically, some of the best Asian hoopsters played this position – Hu Weidong of China, Lee Sang-Min of Korea, Cheng Chih-Lung of Taiwan, and, of course, our very own Allan Caidic. Any team that harbors hopes of gaining success in international basketball must have good shooters – shooters who don’t need two or three minutes to “heat up”, but, rather, shooters who can light it up at the drop of a hat.
|Naturalized Jordanian Rasheim Wright is one of the|
toughest match-ups in all of Asia.
(image from Yahoo.com)
Kids, here are at the TOP FIVE FIBA Asia Shooting Guards OUTSIDE OF THE PHILIPPINES:
|The Top 5 FIBA Asia Shooting Guards.|
(composite image by Enzo Flojo)
Hamed Afagh – Iran, 30 years old, 6’3”
Current club & stats: Petrochimi (IBL); 21.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.0spg, 54.5 FG%, 36.8 3pt%
2012 FIBA Asia Cup stats: 12.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.0spg
Strengths: Afagh won’t wow anyone with his three-point percentage, but he’s the kind of shooter who can string treys in bunches. He’s the perfect complement to a team that has a tower of power in Hamed Haddadi and a super swingman in Samad Nikkhah Bahrami. He’s also a more-than-decent defender who likes to play the passing lanes. He was Iran’s third-best scorer in the 2011 FIBA Asia tourney behind Haddadi and starting PF Arsalan Kazemi, and he was Iran’s second-best in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup, right behind Bahrami.
Weaknesses: The biggest knock on Afagh is he’s really turnover-prone – he’s currently coughing up the ball 5.3 times per game in the Iranian league. This is probably why, whenever Afagh is part of the Iran NT, the ball doesn’t go through him unless he’s open for a jumper. Coach Memi Becirovic has enough guys who can run the plays, like Bahrami and Mahdi Kamrani, so Afagh is really just their designated sniper. In theory, if a team shadows Afagh, then that should be the end of him. Of course, that’s easier said than done considering how many weapons the Iranians can throw at any given opponent.
Rasheim Wright – Jordan, 32 years old, 6’4”
Current club & stats: Al Gharafa (QBL); 18.6ppg, 4.6rpg, 6.1apg, 1.7spg, 50.0 FG%
2011 FIBA Asia Championships stats: 19.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg
Strengths: Wright is the perfect complement to a Jordanian squad that already has great size. What Wright brings is toughness in the backcourt and an additional flexible playmaker who can spell usual starting PG Sam Dahglas. When Dahglas sits, veteran guard Wesam Al-Sous usually is first off the bench, but Al-Sous is no playmaker – he’s a designated long range bomber. This is when Wright really comes to the fore. I remember him alternating with Daghlas in bringing the ball down and calling the plays during the 2011 Wuhan tourney, and he’ll probably have to do much more of that now that Daghlas has reportedly retired from international competition. Wright can score off the dribble drive, pull up for a jumper, or create plays for his teammates – the perfect skills for a playmaking two-guard.
Weaknesses: Perhaps my biggest gripe on Wright is his inconsistent three-point shooting. He’s most dangerous when his head is down and plowing through the openings in the defense, but he’s not as great a dead-shot from beyond the arc as many of the other guys on this list. No Asian team can really stop him from producing good numbers, but he can be slowed down by just forcing him to chuck it from deep.
Erfan Ali Saeed – Qatar, 30 years old, 6’6”
Current club & stats: Al Rayyan (QBL); 11.4ppg, 7.8rpg, 3.3apg, 1.0spg, 51.1 FG%
2012 FIBA Asia Cup stats: 12.1ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.0bpg, 42.7 3pt%
Strengths: Saeed is definitely one of the most underrated and unheralded players in Asia, and maybe that’s just the way he likes it. Often plying his trade in the shadow of more established Qatari names like Yaseen Musa or Tanguy Ngombo, Saeed can be labeled Team Qatar’s fireman – the guy who dowses water on opposing teams’ hopes with a quick three or a nifty drive. He’s one of the most versatile players on the Qatari squad, and he showed it well during last year’s FIBA Asia Cup, where he was their second-best player right behind former NBAer Trey Johnson. Another great thing about him is his nose for the ball. I mean, just look at his rebound numbers – nearly 8 boards each game. That’s crazy for a shooting guard. That was enough to make him Qatar’s best rebounder in the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup, and he is also the current rebounding leader for his club team – Al Rayyan of the QBL.
Weaknesses: Saeed, however, is far from perfect. In the times when guys like Musa or Ngombo aren’t around, he wasn’t really able to rise to the occasion and carry the Qataris on his shoulders. He’s built to be the second or third guy, not the main leader. He has also been a little inconsistent with his free throw shooting. In last year’s FIBA Asia Cup, he managed to convert just 67% of his freebies. For Team Qatar to go far this year, Saeed will have to transcend his usual role and be a bit more assertive in all aspects of his game.
Wang Shipeng – China, 30 years old, 6’6”
Current club & stats: Guangdong Southern Tigers (CBA) – 12.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, 41.6 3pt%
2012 Olympic Basketball stats: 9.6ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.4apg, 61.9 3pt%
Strengths: Wang is the kind of shooting guard international coaches dream of – a guy who can come off the bench or out of nowhere and bury a three when the team needs it. In the London Olympics, he was one of the very few bright spots on a Chinese team devoid of identity. He connected on nearly 62% from rainbow country. SIXTY TWO PERCENT. He made, on average, nearly THREE TRIPLES per game. Now THAT is a shooting guard. He’s not doing shabbily in the current CBA, too. He’s pumping in a little more than 3 treys per game at a 42% clip. The only reason he didn’t play in the 2011 Wuhan games was because he injured his shooting hand earlier in the year. Had he played, there is no doubt that China would’ve been much stronger.
Weaknesses: As good a sniper as Wang is, however, he doesn’t really do much else. He’s not known for his on-ball defense, and his playmaking isn’t really anything to worry about. By far the worst part of his game, though, and this is where irony kicks in, is that he is CRAP from the free throw line. He currently shoots under 60% from the stripe for Guangdong, and he made just 1 out of 6 attempts in the Olympics for a mind-boggling 16% accuracy. It’s clear that, though he’s a dead-shot from three, he’s just pretty much dead from the line.
|Wang Shipeng showcased great offense in the 2012 London Olympics.|
(image by Mark Ralston/Getty Images)
Cho Sung-Min – South Korea, 30 years old, 6’6”
Current club & stats: Busan KT Sonic Boom (KBL); 13.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.6apg, 1.6spg, 46.0 3pt%, 53.3 FG%, 91.5 FT%
FIBA 2011 Championship stats: 10.9ppg, 1.5rpg, 45.7 3pt%, 52.0 FG%, 92.9 FT%
Strengths: Cho is perhaps the purest shooter on this list. He can hit from anywhere – ANYWHERE. And he can hit ANYTIME. I mean, just ask coach Rajko Toroman and the 2011 Smart-Gilas team. Cho was the main reason Korea scored 20 points in the last five minutes of play during the third-place game in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships. He hit three of his four triples in that stretch, breaking the backs and hearts of Pinoys all over. I remember him cutting through the baseline late in the game and, just before he turned past the screen to receive a short pass, he chose to sag towards the corner for a more open look at the basket. His defender (was it Marcio Lassiter or Chris Lutz?) got lost in the shuffle and Cho was left wide open. He stroked the trey, and it cut the Gilas lead to (as far as I can remember) just 1 point. That eventually set up Jarod Stevenson’s go-ahead three a couple of sequences afterwards. Damn. I hate this guy.
Weaknesses: Like Afagh and Wang, Cho is quite one-dimensional. Once he’s on the floor, he’s there for really just one reason, and not much else. With Yang Dong-Geun and Park Chan-Hee probably alternating at the PG post for Korea, Cho’s main task will, once again, be to go around screens and free himself up for the three. He’s also not known for his on-ball defense, so quicker and stronger guards might actually be able to just toy with him.
One can make the argument that the Philippines has the best guards in Asia, but I’m hard-pressed to find any local SG who shoots as well, in terms of percentage, as Wang or Cho. I’m also hard-pressed to find many who are as versatile as Wright and Saeed.
That’s not to say there’s no one who can make life tough for Asia’s best off-guards. On the contrary, there are several locals whose skill sets should enable them to match up very well.
The five guys whom I think can best serve as Gilas Pilipinas’s shooting guards are (arranged from highest-priority to lowest-priority):
Jeff Chan (he now has two international tourneys under his belt, and he continues to evolve as one of the finest guards in the PBA)
Marcio Lassiter (he was the perfect two-way two-guard two years ago, and still remains one of my personal favorites for the current edition of Gilas)
Gary David (need someone who can light up the board the second he’s put in? look no further)
Chris Lutz (a more offensive-minded, less defensive-minded version of Lassiter)
PJ Simon (so underrated, but, remember this, he is actually better than James Yap)
In PART FIVE, we shall take a look at the TOP FIVE FIBA Asia Point Guards.